Evaluation of the Power Assist Effect of Muscle Suit for Lower Back Support

Miyu Ide, Takuya Hashimoto, Kenta Matsumoto, Hiroshi Kobayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In order to reduce the burden on the lower back, we have been developing a compact and lightweight 'Muscle Suit' that uses McKibben artificial muscles, a type of soft pneumatic actuator. The Muscle Suit for lower back assist has been commercialized and sold over 13,000 units so far; the evaluation of the assist effect is a key point for further development and marketing of the Muscle Suit. In this study, we focus on the assistive effects of two Muscle Suit models: the standard model and the standalone model. The former generates assistive force actively using the actuator, but the latter equips a mechanism generating assistive force passively without the actuator. In the experiments, we first conducted surface electromyogram (sEMG) measurement to examine muscle usage in lifting motion of a heavy weight with or without the Muscle Suit assists. Besides, we estimated the assist force of the Muscle Suit from the perspective of muscle usage ratio. As the result, the evaluation of the overall muscle usage of all measured muscles revealed that the both models of the Muscle Suit reduced muscle usage. We then examined whether the dynamic length of body sways (DLNG) could be used as an indicator of fatigue progressed with performing the lifting motion repeatedly under assist or non-assist conditions. The experimental results confirmed that the reduction of physical fatigue by the Muscle Suit suppressed the change of DLNG value.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9309220
Pages (from-to)3249-3260
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Access
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Assistive technology
  • fatigue
  • length of body sways
  • lower back support
  • muscle suit
  • muscle usage

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