Skip to main content

Cognitive Effects of Physical Support Systems: A Study of Resulting Effects for Tasks at and above Head Level Using Exoskeletons


In the wake of demographic change and increasing knowledge of potentially harmful activities and work areas, technical support systems like exoskeletons are used to minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by supporting employees during tasks with high biomechanical load. In addition, the increasing quality requirement and individualized demand make production activities more complex and changeable. Not least because of the well-trained abilities and skills of humans, employees have a central role in current and future value chains. One possibility for physically supporting manual tasks is the exoskeleton. During the development and implementation of the exoskeletons, many of their effects and performances have been evaluated. Mostly, developers or end-users focus on selected biomechanical effects like reduction of musculoskeletal stress. The effects on cognitive structures as well as the impact on work quality are less known. The current study analyzed the cognitive effects during the use of the active exoskeleton Lucy for tasks performed at or above head level in a real environment (training center for scaffolders). The study was conducted with 18 participants. Our experiment was able to show that participants who were supported by the exoskeleton Lucy made significantly fewer mistakes in a work task (53,8%). In addition, a significantly higher cognitive performance (concentration achievement, processing of target objects and error frequencies) was found in supported participants, compared to the unsupported condition, in a psychometric test after each work task.


  • exoskeleton
  • support system
  • concentration performance
  • resulting effects
  • industrial application


  1. W. MacDougall: Industrie 4.0: Smart manufacturing for the future. Germany Trade & Invest, 2014.

    Google Scholar 

  2. R. Weidner, A. Karafillidis: Three General Determinants of Support-Systems. In: Applied Mechanics and Materials Vol. 794 (2015), S. 555 - 562, Trans Tech Publications, Schweiz,, 2015.

  3. R. Weidner, N. Kong, J. P. Wulfsberg: Human Hybrid Robot: a new concept for sup-porting manual assembly tasks. In: Production Engineering, 7(6), S. 675-684,, 2013.

  4. R. Weidner, T. Redlich, J. P. Wulfsberg: Technische Unterstützungssysteme. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, ISBN: 978-3-662-48382-4, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  5. R. Weidner: Technische Unterstützungssysteme, die die Menschen wirklich wollen. Band zur zweiten Transdisziplinären Konferenz, ISBN: 978-3-86818-089-3, 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  6. K. Stadler: Exoskeletons: von der akademischen Vision zur industriellen Anwendung. In Internationales Forum Mechatronik, Winterthur, 2013.

    Google Scholar 

  7. B. M. Otten, R. Weidner, A. Argubi-Wollesen: Evaluation of a novel active exoskeleton for tasks at or above head level,” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 3(3), pp.2408-2415, Jul. 2018.

    Google Scholar 

  8. C. Berger, A. Argubi-Wollesen, R. Weidner: Biomechanical Analysis of a Wearable Support Device for Overhead Work. European College of Sports Science Congress. Wien, 6.-9. Juli 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Z. Yao, C. Linnenberg, A. Argubi-Wollesen, R. Weidner, J.P., Wulfsberg: Biomimetic design of an ultra-compact and light-weight soft muscle glove. In: Production Engineering, vol. 11(6), pp.731-743, Dec. 2017.

    Google Scholar 

  10. M. Wehner, D. Rempel, H. Kazerooni: Lower extremity exoskeleton reduces Back forces in lifting, in: ASME 2009 Dynamic Systems and Control Conf., vol. 2, pp. 49–56, 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  11. S. Toxiri, J. Ortiz, J. Masood, J. Fernandez, L. A. Mateos, D. G. Caldwell: A wearable device for reducing spinal loads during lifting tasks: biomechanics and design concepts. In: 2015 IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), pp. 2295–2300, 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Z. Yao, C. Linnenberg, R. Weidner, J. Wulfsberg: Development of A Soft Power Suit for Lower Back Assistance. In: 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 5103-5109, 2019.

    Google Scholar 

  13. A. Gohritz: Schädigung peripherer Nerven der oberen Extremität. In: Praxis der Plastischen Chirurgie, pp. 353-359), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2011.

    Google Scholar 

  14. J. Felfe: Arbeits-und Organisationspsychologie 2: Führung und Personalentwicklung. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart, 2012.

    Google Scholar 

  15. J. C. Rüegg: Gehirn, Psyche und Körper. Schattauer Verlag (später Thieme-Verlag), Stuttgart, 2010.

    Google Scholar 

  16. W. Bieger: Neurostress – eine Analyse Teil 2. in: Zeitschrift für Orthomolekulare Medizin, pp. 31-33, Haug-Verlag, Stuttgart, 2014.

    Google Scholar 

  17. D. Michalski, A. Hinz: Schmerzchronifizierung bei ambulanten Rückenschmerzpatienten. Der Schmerz, vol. 20(3), 198-209, 2006

    Google Scholar 

  18. M. Daseking, D. Putz, D: TBS-TK Rezension. Psychologische Rundschau. Hogrefe-Verlag, Göttingen, 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  19. R. Weidner, B. Otten, F. Schroeter, J. P. Wulfsberg, P. Dehmel, T. Jacobsen: Effects of using exoskeleton - Physical and cognitive effects using the example of activities at head level and above. In: Werkstattstechnik (WT), vol. 108 (9), pp. 597-601, 2018.

    Google Scholar 

  20. R. Brickenkamp, L. Schmidt-Atzert, D. Liepmann: Test d2-Revision: Aufmerksamkeits-und Konzentrationstest. Hogrefe, Göttingen, 2010.

    Google Scholar 

  21. J. Cohen: Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. Routledge Academic, New York, 1988.

    Google Scholar 

  22. C. G. Drury: The speed—accuracy trade-off in industry. Ergonomics, vol. 37(4), 747-763, 1994.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Felix Schroeter or Robert Weidner .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 The Author(s)

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Schroeter, F., Kähler, S.T., Yao, Z., Jacobsen, T., Weidner, R. (2020). Cognitive Effects of Physical Support Systems: A Study of Resulting Effects for Tasks at and above Head Level Using Exoskeletons. In: Schüppstuhl, T., Tracht, K., Henrich, D. (eds) Annals of Scientific Society for Assembly, Handling and Industrial Robotics. Springer Vieweg, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation