Three Passive Arm-Support Exoskeletons have Inconsistent Effects on Muscle Activity, Posture, and Perceived Exertion During Diverse Simulated Pseudo-Static Overhead Work Tasks


Arm-support exoskeletons (ASEs) are an emerging technology with the potential to reduce physical demands during diverse tasks, especially overhead work. However, limited information is available about the effects of different ASE designs during overhead work with diverse task demands. Eighteen participants (gender-balanced) performed lab-based simulations of a pseudo-static overhead task. This task was performed in six different conditions (3 work heights × 2 hand force directions), with each of three ASEs and in a control condition (i.e., no ASE). Using ASEs generally reduced the median activity of several shoulder muscles (by ∼12–60%), changed working postures, and decreased perceived exertion in several body regions. Such effects, though, were often task-dependent and differed between the ASEs. Our results support earlier evidence of the beneficial effects of ASEs for overhead work but emphasize that: 1) these effects depend on the task demands and ASE design and 2) none of the ASE designs tested was clearly superior across the tasks simulated.



Exoskeleton, Muscle activity, Overhead work, Perceived exertion, Posture, Shoulder