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Effects of Back-support Exoskeletons on Task Performance and Usability During Construction-relevant Tasks
DescriptionThe effects of three Back-support Exoskeletons (BSE) on task performance and usability were examined during simulated construction tasks. Seventeen novice participants completed 18 tasks involving both quasi-static and dynamic postures using no BSE (baseline) and three BSEs, each with two support settings (Off and On). There were significant interaction effects of BSE and task condition on task completion time, perceived physical demand, discomfort, and interference of a BSE. Using a BSE increased mean completion time substantially for some tasks (e.g., shoveling) and inconsistently affected perceived physical demand and perceived interference. The effects of BSE use on subjective ratings were distinct and specific to a task. These preliminary results support that the benefits of BSEs are conditional on specific tasks and BSE designs. Further study is needed to understand how to best match a task and a BSE to maximize benefits.