A Spine Assistive Robot With a Routed Twisted String Actuator and a Flat-Back Alleviation Mechanism for Lumbar-Degenerative Flat Back

Dongun Lee, Sunghun Kim, Hyeong Jin Park, Seonwoo Kim, Dongjun Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A lumbar-degenerative flat back is a condition caused by a decline in back muscle strength with aging. The symptoms of this condition include severe lower back pain and spinal disorders, which restrict people from performing activities of daily living (ADL). Recently, various wearable robots have been developed to assist the weakened muscles. However, despite their effectiveness, the wearables require either bulky and rigid structures (active wearables) or tend to constrain users' motion (passive wearables). In addition, the complex biomechanics of the human spine have not been sufficiently investigated during the design process. To address these issues, we propose a human-inspired spine assistive robot with a routed twisted string actuator (RTSA, active element) and a flat-back alleviation mechanism (FAM, passive element). This innovative RTSA conforms to the complex human spine curvature while minimizing friction and assists the ADL with its unique prioritizing characteristics. The human spine-inspired FAM, on the other hand, was designed to prevent spinal disorder injury while performing ADL. The experimental results showed that the proposed system successfully reduced the electromyography signals while performing ADL. Furthermore, the spinal disorder injury during trunk motion could be prevented by reducing the lumbopelvic ratio of the users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5185-5196
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (Korea) under the Industrial Technology Innovation Program under Grant 10062636, in part by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean government (MIST) under Grant NRF-2016R1A5A1938472, and in part by the Chung-Ang University Research Scholarship Grants in 2021

Publisher Copyright:
© 1996-2012 IEEE.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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