Zurich - Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have tested a prototype of a wearable exomuscle on human test subjects for the first time. The results are highly promising: the exomuscle allowed both healthy participants and those with a form of restricted mobility to lift their arms and objects for far longer.

The Myoshirt, a soft, wearable exomuscle for the upper body, has proven to be highly promising during initial tests on people. It was developed at the Sensory-Motor Systems Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). The exomuscle is designed to boost the power and endurance of the arms and shoulders of people living with restricted mobility.

As ETH Zurich also explains in a video, a smart algorithm is able to detect with the help of sensors in the fabric which movements the respective wearer wants to perform and how much power is required for these. Wearers of the exomuscle are able to individually adjust and control the level of support at any time.

During testing with ten healthy participants and two people with restricted mobility, the results were highly promising, further details of which can be found in a press release issued by ETH Zurich. Endurance increased by around a third in healthy test subjects and by as much as 60 percent in the participant suffering from a form of muscular dystrophy. Moreover, the test subject with a spinal cord injury was able to perform exercises with the exomuscle for three times as long.

“In the next phase, we want to test our prototype outside the lab in the natural environment of future wearers and use the results to further improve it”, comments Michele Xiloyannis of the Myoshirt team, in the press release. The team works closely with the ETH spin-off MyoSwiss AG, which manufactures and sells a soft, wearable exoskeleton to support the legs.

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