Study Finds Exoskeletons Can Reduce Strain in Health Care

November 11th 2020
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor

The studies come from the increased use of wearable exoskeletons in physically demanding jobs to support good ergonomics and augment muscular strength.

Researchers at Tampere University and LUT University, both in Finland, studied exoskeleton vests worn by nurses to discover how the new technology would suit the special requirements of patient care. These investigators found that exoskeletons can reduce physical strain.1,2

The studies come from the increased use of wearable exoskeletons in physically demanding jobs to support good ergonomics and augment muscular strength, according to results published in the journal Ergonomics in Design.1

"This message from the field led us to investigate what conditions exoskeletons would need to meet in order to reform nursing," said Tuuli Turja, postdoctoral research fellow at Tampere University, in a prepared statement. "Currently, exoskeletons are mainly used in manufacturing and logistics. Isn't it high time to introduce exoskeletons in female-dominated sectors, where musculoskeletal disorders are rampant?"2

Exoskeleton-type technology is generally utilized in rehabilitation settings, where patients wear the skeleton of a walking robot, for example. The latest study article focuses on 2 studies involving users of the Laevo Exoskeleton, a wearable back support vest, which alleviates lower back strain by 40 to 50%, according to the manufacturer.1,2

The first study found pairs of nursing students assisted geriatric patients in moving from a hospital bed into a wheelchair with and without the exoskeleton, whereas the second study found 7 nurses tested the exoskeleton vest in a real care environment for a week.1,2

The study results showed that due to the special characteristics of patient care, exoskeletons need to be developed further before being completely suitable for everyday nursing work. In addition, nurses are willing to use exoskeletons to assist their work if the devices are comfortable and effortless to use and product development considers the requirements of nursing, such as interactive features and safety, in hectic work situations, according to the study authors.1,2

REFERENCES

  • Turja T, Saurio R, Katila J, Hennala L, Pekkarinen S, Melkas H. Intention to Use Exoskeletons in Geriatric Care Work: Need for Ergonomic and Social Design. Ergonomics in Design. 30, September 2020. doi:10.1177/1064804620961577
  • Exoskeletons can reduce strain also in health care. Tampere University. https://www.tuni.fi/en/news/exoskeletons-can-reduce-strain-also-health-care. Published November 10, 2020. Accessed November 11, 2020.

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