Work-related musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs have long been associated with heavier, more manual industries such as manufacturing, construction, and transport. The automation and modernization of today’s industry worksites have resulted in increased exposure to loads on the upper limbs resulting in upper limb musculoskeletal disorders. These injuries are costing America a lot of money: The Institute in Medicine estimates that work-related MSDs cost between $45 and $54 billion annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 350,000 cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders were reported in the U.S. in 2016. The need for grasp-intensive work will not go away: America relies on industries such as automotive, construction, manufacturing, and more, where these injuries are especially common. They will become even more prevalent – unless we do something to prevent it.
Preventing hand-related MSDs using a grip-strengthening exoskeleton glove
The founders of Swedish Medtech company Bioservo Technologies saw the need for preventive measures against work-related MSDs already in the early 2000s. To combat the problem, they developed the world’s first active soft exoskeleton for the hand – Ironhand.
The glove is powered by a portable battery and equipped with an internet connection and machine learning software. Ironhand aims to keep the user strong, healthy, and efficient by aiding and strengthening their grip – thus minimizing the risks of incurring MSDs.
Preventive solutions such as the Ironhand glove are needed in order to tackle the increasing problem of hand-related MSDs in America, especially in grip-intensive industries. According to Liberty Mutual, the largest workers’ compensation insurance provider in the United States, overexertion injuries from tasks such as holding, lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying an object, cost employers $13.4 billion every year. Repetitive, grip-intensive tasks that require strength cause repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and other MSDs alarmingly often. Besides costing America a lot of money, the problem of hand-related MSDs is also causing thousands of American workers debilitating pain.
Edited by Maryssa Gordon, Senior Editor, Price of Business Digital Network