TitleEfficacy of passive upper-limb exoskeletons in reducing musculoskeletal load associated with overhead tasks.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsKong, Y-K, Kim, JH, Shim, H-H, Shim, J-W, Park, S-S, Choi, K-H
JournalAppl Ergon
Date Published01/2023


  • This article applied ergonomic methods to analyze the effect of passive upper-limb exoskeleton device.
  • The passive upper-limb exoskeleton device significantly reduced the muscle activity in target area (upper-limbs) than that of non-target area (lower-limbs)
  • The effectiveness of the exoskeleton appeared to depend on the working heights, with greater benefits at the working height of 205 cm compared to 160 cm.

Overhead work can pose substantial musculoskeletal stress in many industrial settings. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of passive upper-limb exoskeletons in reducing muscular activity and subjective discomfort ratings. In a repeated-measures laboratory experiment, 20 healthy male participants performed 10-min drilling tasks with and without two passive upper-limb exoskeletons (VEX and Airframe). During the tasks, muscle activity in eight muscles (upper limb - upper trapezius, middle deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps brachii; low back - erector spinae; lower limb - rectus femoris, biceps femoris, tibialis anterior) was collected using electromyography as a physical exertion measure. Subjective discomfort rating in six body parts was measured using the Borg's CR-10 scale. The results showed that muscle activity (especially in the upper-limb muscles) was significantly decreased by 29.3-58.1% with both exoskeletons compared to no exoskeleton condition. The subjective discomfort ratings showed limited differences between the conditions. These findings indicate that passive upper-limb exoskeletons may have potential as an effective intervention to reduce muscular loading and physical exertion during overhead work.

Alternate JournalAppl Ergon
PubMed ID36645995