Passive Spine Exoskeleton

This project focuses on supporting the torso, a commonly overlooked connection in the exoskeleton field. The strategy is based on pulling back on the thoracic region of the back and pushing forward on the lumbar region during spine flexion/extension. A supportive extensive moment is produced as one bends forward and the load is carried through soft cabling and spring elements that transfer the load between the shoulders and the soles of the feet. This concept was simulated using OpenSim and a prototype was built. In human testing the surface electromyography showed a reduction in muscle activity of up to 24% at lumbar and 54% at thoracic level muscle. The muscle force and intervertebral bending moment were estimated to be reduced by up to 479 N and 36 Nm, respectively.


H. Zhang, A. Kadrolkar, and F. Sup, “Design and Preliminary Evaluation of a Passive Spine Exoskeleton”,ASME J. Medical Devices, 10(1):011002-011002-8. 2015.