Exoskeleton Bodies: Superhero Dream or Reality?

By Mina Ghobrial

A study done by researchers at Ohio State University found that wearing an exoskeleton commonly used by workers in industry to allow them to use their arms with more force actually increases back strain. The device, seen as allowing people to have superhuman strain, does in fact perform its intended duty - but not without consequences. Wearing the exoskeleton allows the weight of the object held by the arms to be transferred to the back, allowing more to be lifting but putting 53% more compression forces on the back. This could lead to permanent back issues for people frequently using these skeletons. The devices were also described as extremely uncomfortable by the study participants, who had difficulty using their full range of motion and felt as if their movements were stiff. So, for now, being half-man half-machine won't turn you into a superhero just yet. But exoskeletons with motors are currently in the works, and may make it possible for an exoskeleton to let people lift super-human amounts by providing additional force, and not by merely transferring it to other muscles.
 

Ohio State University. (2018, April 20). For heavy lifting, use exoskeletons with caution: The wearable robotics don't eliminate stress -- they just shift it to other parts of the body. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 1, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180420122816.htm