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Influence of a Back-Support Exoskeleton on Physical Demands of Rebar Work

9 pagesPublished: June 9, 2021


Low back injuries are a major concern in the construction industry. Rebar workers develop lower back injuries as a result of prolonged awkward positions and repetitive motions. Exoskeletons can be an effective intervention for preventing back injuries. However, little is known regarding the potential impacts of their use on physical demands of construction work. This study presents an evaluation of the effects of a commercially available exoskeleton during simulated rebar work. Assessment of the exoskeleton was based on muscle activity and range of motion of the back during placing and tying subtasks of the rebar work. With the exoskeleton, muscle activity reduced in the erector spinae group by 10–30% during placing subtask. Latissimus dorsi muscle group showed a reduced muscle activity of 7-31% during the placing subtask but increased by 1-14% during tying subtasks. The back range of motion reduced by 17.15% during placing subtask and increased by 23.41% during the tying subtask. The reduction in muscle activations and range of motion during placing subtask agrees with the intended design of Laevo. However, the increased muscle activities and range of motion are indicative of increased discomfort and fatigue. These results could be helpful in redesigning exoskeletons to significantly reduce injury risk in construction.

Keyphrases: Laevo, low back disorder, muscle activation, passive exoskeleton, Rebar Work

In: Tom Leathem, Anthony J. Perrenoud and Wesley Collins (editors). ASC 2021. 57th Annual Associated Schools of Construction International Conference, vol 2, pages 1--9

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Nihar Gonsalves and Omobolanle Ogunseiju and Abiola Akanmu and Chukwuma Nnaji},
  title     = {Influence of a Back-Support Exoskeleton on Physical Demands of Rebar Work},
  booktitle = {ASC 2021. 57th Annual Associated Schools of Construction International Conference},
  editor    = {Tom Leathem and Anthony Perrenoud and Wesley Collins},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Built Environment},
  volume    = {2},
  pages     = {1--9},
  year      = {2021},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2632-881X},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/5rg3}}
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