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Do exoskeletons reduce musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace?

If you asked me 3 years ago, I’d give a different answer than today. But recent scientific studies and user/industry reports have taught us a lot. We’re entering a new era. Let’s dive in… 🧵

3 years ago, my answer would have been:

❓ Potentially, based on laboratory #biomechanics & controlled field studies.

Now I’d upgrade the answer to:

✅ Yes, if you can match the right type of exoskeleton or exosuit to the right job. And implement it appropriately.

I’ve been deeply involved in occupational exoskeleton R&D, implementation, field testing, entrepreneurship, & standards for 5 years.

So I come at this from various perspectives.

Here’s what I’m seeing…

🚨 6 things you should know about occupational exos (#exoskeletons and #exosuits) and their effect on injury risk
👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽

1. Ford found the probability of medical visits decreased by 52%

• 65 workers wore shoulder exos
• Workers were tracked for 18 months
• Exos helped with overhead work on assembly lines

Results support the potential of exos as #ergonomics interventions:
https://lnkd.in/ggN-8U6D

2. Ergonomic tool projects 20-60% reduction in lower back disorder (LBD) risk

• Back exos were assessed for material handling
• Exos reduce LBD risk by an amount similar to lift tables
• Lift tables were previously found to reduce workplace injuries

Bonus: Check out this interactive calculator:
https://lnkd.in/gFmUeJb2

3. Toyota reported lower injuries and reduced workers‘ compensation costs

• Shoulder exoskeletons were used for auto manufacturing
• Strong safety culture was credited as a top contributor to the success

Great insights throughout this video:
https://lnkd.in/gsYe4RK6

4. Field studies report lower work-related discomfort

• Discomfort is often used as a leading indicator of injury risk
• Companies track how discomfort changes with exo use

Insurance provider SAIF found a 73% reduction in back discomfort with exosuits:
https://lnkd.in/gbXz_8iS

5. Scientific studies reinforce expectation that exos can reduce injury risk

• New exoskeleton studies are published monthly
• Lots of corroborating data about injury reduction potential
• And good insights on how to improve designs

Recent review:
https://lnkd.in/g7bRwFyG

6. User feedback provides corroborating evidence

• I’ve never been one to look at testimonials in a vacuum
• But user feedback is important & useful
• It complements scientific/industry reports

And it reminds us why we work on exos in the first place: it’s about people!

TL/DR

Yes, exos can reduce musculoskeletal injury risks based on converging evidence.

There are now a handful of longitudinal studies/reports showing exos have reduced injuries, or leading indicators of injuries, at work.

But proper implementation and safety culture are key.

Quelle: LinkedIn (18.10.2022)

Tom Illauer

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