Back-support exoskeletons

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented stress on healthcare systems worldwide, with significant consequences for clinical management. More particularly, Intensive Care Units (ICU) were hard-pressed to safely maintain a high number of patients on mechanical ventilation during the surge, due to limited capacity and resources. Staff of ICU have then been exposed to repetitive and intensive physical demand.

A pilot study, recently published in the proceedings of the last AHFE conference, tested the opportunity in employing back-support exoskeletons to reduce physical workload and risks of developing musculoskeletal disorders. This pilot study demonstrated that exoskeletons are feasible to deploy in an ICU to physically assist the medical staff, even in the dreadful sanitary context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, we could therefore witness a strong emergence of these technologies in hospital sector.

Ivaldi, S.; Maurice, P.; Gomez, W.; Theurel, J.; Wioland, L.; Atain-Kouadio, J.-J.; Claudon, L.; Hani, H.; Kimmoun, A.; Sellal, J.-M.; Levy, B.; Paysant, J.; Malikov, S.; Chenuel, B.; Settembre, N. (2102) Using exoskeletons to assist medical staff during prone positioning of mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients: a pilot study. Int. Conf. Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2021).

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Jean Theurel, INRS

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