Assessing the influence of a passive, upper extremity exoskeletal vest for tasks requiring arm elevation: Part I – “Expected” effects on discomfort, shoulder muscle activity, and work task performance

Journal Article
Publication Abstract: 

Use of exoskeletal vests (designed to support overhead work) can be an effective intervention approach for tasks involving arm elevation, yet little is known on the potential beneficial impacts of their use on physical demands and task performance. This laboratory study (n = 12) evaluated the effects of a prototype exoskeletal vest during simulated repetitive overhead drilling and light assembly tasks. Anticipated or expected benefits were assessed, in terms of perceived discomfort, shoulder muscle activity, and task performance. Using the exoskeletal vest did not substantially influence perceived discomfort, but did decrease normalized shoulder muscle activity levels (e.g., ≤ 45% reduction in peak activity). Drilling task completion time decreased by nearly 20% with the vest, but the number of errors increased. Overall, exoskeletal vest use has the potential to be a new intervention for work requiring arm elevation; however, additional investigations are needed regarding potential unexpected or adverse influences (see Part II).