Stumbling-Related Fall Risk

A new ASTM International standard (F3578) will help to evaluate the effect of exoskeletons on fall risk due to stumbling. The new standard is a product of ASTM’s Exo Technology Center of Excellence’s Research to Standards efforts. 

“Exoskeletons are wearable devices to help reduce disabilities, prevent musculoskeletal injuries, and improve well-being,” says ASTM International member Karl Zelik. “We’ve developed this new test method to determine if an exoskeleton improves, impedes, or maintains a user’s ability to recover from a stumble, or avoid falling.”

Zelik, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University and chief scientist at HeroWear, says that the standard will be used to assess if a specific exoskeleton is beneficial or detrimental in the presence of stumble perturbations during walking, which can occur in daily, real-world environments.  

Zelik notes that the new standard, developed by ASTM’s exoskeletons and exosuits committee (F48) can be used for occupational, medical, military, or recreational exoskeletons.  

“It is important to understand if exoskeletons have secondary or unintended effects on safety, such as fall-risk due to stumbling,” says Zelik. In addition to providing this understanding, the new standard can be used to help design exoskeletons to improve a user’s ability to recover from a stumble. Researchers and manufacturers will find the new standard to be useful in making these assessments. 

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