Vanderbilt University engineers have determined that their back-assist exosuit, a clothing-like device that supports human movement and posture, can reduce fatigue by an average of 29-47 percent in lower back muscles. The exosuit’s functionality presents a promising new development for individuals who work in physically demanding fields and are at risk for back pain, including medical professionals and frontline workers.
The article describing the experiment and findings, “Low-Profile Elastic Exosuit Reduces Back Muscle Fatigue,” was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports on September 29.
The research, led by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Karl Zelik and recent Ph.D. graduate and primary author Erik Lamers, used surface electromyography techniques to measure changes in low back muscle fatigue in male and female participants, who were given physical tasks to perform both with and without the exosuit.
The wearable technology developed by Zelik’s team may conjure images of Iron Man’s