How many times have you been told to “lift with your knees”? A new wearable device forces you to lift correctly.
Back injuries account for nearly two out of every five injuries in the workplace. Lifting heavy weights without bending at the knees first puts enormous strains on the lower back. Powered exoskeletons can provide added strength for lifting and carrying, but these are extremely expensive. Researchers in Korea have developed a passive “exosuit” that does more than just provide a back brace. It actually prevents a worker from just bending over at the waist to pick up an object. By bending at the knees, the worker maintains a better body posture, and strong rubber bands store energy to help lift the object. As a result, it requires no electricity or a power source other than the worker’s body. The device resulted in a 35% improvement in lifting posture, and the test subjects used 5% less energy to perform lifting tasks. This new design has potential uses not just in the workplace, but also for physical therapy and athletic training applications.