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System of external support of the lower extremities («exoskeleton for legs»)

DOI 10.18127/j19997493-201904-04


M.G. Moshchenko - Ph.D. (Eng.), Design Bureau «Eksobody» (Moscow)
G.P. Egorov - Ph.D. (Phys.), Design Bureau «Eksobody» (Moscow)
N.D. Babanov – Laboratory Researcher, Laboratory of Physiology of Human Functional States, P.K. Anokhin Research Institute of Normal Physiology (Moscow)
O.V. Kubryak – D.Sc. (Biol.), Head of Laboratory, Laboratory of Physiology of Human Functional States, P.K. Anokhin Research Institute of Normal Physiology (Moscow)

The EksoBody device has been developed for static support of the human body by increasing the rigidity of the support by attaching an external mechanical structure to the legs, lower back and pelvic area. The relevance of the development is determined by the fact that the device allows you to remove part of the load on the legs, making it easier to carry out lengthy work in a standing position. It is also important to use this device as a device for ergonomic and physiological studies, which are necessary when designing safe and effective passive and active exoskeletons that complement the human body. "EksoBody" is a two-link mechanical device without active propulsors and batteries. The first link is in the ankle joint, the second in the knee joint. The design consists of pipes with a structural profile. For the ankle, a stirrup is provided, on which the foot rests. To limit the height of the operator’s strut, holes are made in the upper link pipe in increments into which the pin is installed. A pin fixes the position of the exoskeleton. The distance between the holes is chosen so that the exoskeleton operator has the opportunity to fix his position to ensure the most comfortable posture. To fix the device on the human body, belts and straps are provided. The main mode of operation of the device is to maintain a stable posture with small squats. Therefore, for the back of the thigh, a seat cushion is installed. Since it is assumed that the exoskeleton is used for employees performing work in uniforms, the device is mounted on a person in clothes and shoes, which, in our opinion, removes questions about hypoallergenic materials. The exoskeleton is mounted on a person in clothes and shoes. The weight of the structure in the proposed execution of metal parts (option) is about twelve kilograms. A distinctive feature of the proposed design is a special method of articulation at the level of the knee joint. This connection allows you to remove the possible harmful effects on the joint. The essence of this fastening is that due to the freely moving knee joint that does not lie on the structure, the possibility of constricting the main blood vessels is excluded. In this work, a detailed description of the developed device is presented. The study of the features of the application of the proposed exoskeleton can act as preparatory work in the study of more complex, active robotic systems. It is probably possible to use the proposed device to obtain basic data, for example, on muscle tension with a bent knee, and use them to create devices of the same or higher class. Evaluation of the functional state of the exoskeleton operator allows you to give a more accurate answer about the quality and need for the use of such systems. An analysis of the proposed developments and ready-made solutions similar to the EksoBody system, in our opinion, demonstrates the relevance of the device, its timeliness and possible future. The authors of the article understand the need for further development of the proposed design, in terms of the possible use of composite materials to lighten the weight of the structure, as well as in assessing the effect of devices of this type on human conditions and achieving the required functionality, due to the efficiency of unloading the limbs.
As a preliminary assessment of the device, a trial series of observations was carried out in several operating modes: high and low squat. The surface electromyography method was used to objectively assess the quality of the described exoskeleton. Significant differences in muscle effort with and without device are shown.

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