Reliability of a battery of tests for functional evaluation of trunk exoskeletons

Žiga Kozinc, Saskia Baltrusch, Han Houdijk, Nejc Šarabon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Recently, several spinal exoskeletons were developed with the aim to assist occupational tasks such as load-handling and work in prolonged static postures. While the biomechanical effects of such devices has been well investigated, only limited feedback to the developers is usually provided regarding the subjective perceptions of the end-users. The aim of this study was to present a novel battery of tests, designed to assess functional performance and subjective outcomes during the use of assistive trunk exoskeletons, and to assess its test-retest reliability. The battery of tests consists of 12 different simple functional tasks. Twenty participants were included in an intra-session reliability test and repeated the tests within 7–10 days to assess inter-session reliability. They were wearing a novel passive spinal exoskeleton during all trials. The outcomes included quantitative and subjective measures, such as performance time and rating of discomfort and perceived task difficulty. The majority of the outcome measures were reliable within session and between sessions (ICC or α > 0.80). Systematic effects were observed in a few tasks, suggesting that familiarization trials will be needed to minimize the learning effects. The novel battery of tests could become an important easy-to-use tool for functional testing of the spinal exoskeletons in addition to more specific biomechanical and physiological testing. Further studies should address the reliability of the present battery of tests for assessing specific populations, such as low back pain patients and explore how to minimize systematic effects that were observed in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103117
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Volume86
Early online date10 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Assistive device
  • Functional test
  • Low back pain
  • Robotics
  • Trunk

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