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The Laevo is a wearable back and chest support, that elevates bend-over working and stooping. It is scientifically proven that the physical strain of the back reduces by using the Laevo. For example, when performing a job at a 40-degree angle with the Laevo:
When there is less muscle activity and less pressure on the vertebra, back problems will decrease. Hereby, the productivity increases and the long-term employability of the employees improves. We aim to keep everybody who does heavy physical labour, like order picking or bedside care, healthy and employable.
A lifetime of healthy work with Laevo
Laevo aims to increase the long-term employability of everyone who has strain their back during work. Enabling employees to enjoy their work until the age of 67 and stay healthy much longer.
Laevo has created a wearable ‘sacro-lumbar’ support (the Laevo), that improves long-term health by decreasing the exposure to physical strain on the back. To achieve maximum acceptance the design of the Laevo focusses on ease of use. It is can be an effective addition to an employability program and the ‘circle of five’ (see text box).
Long-term employability is important. In most companies, employees are their biggest asset. When employees are happy and working without physical stress, productivity
is high and absenteeism is low. Not to mention that a happy worker is more creative and involved in the company.
It is for this reason that employers, employees, government and trade associations started up ‘long-term employability’ campaigns together, such as: www.duurzameinzetbaarheid.nl, www.arboportaal.nl, www.5xbeter.nl, www.gezondenzeker.nl.
Employers benefit from long-term employability because companies “simply cannot exist, let alone excel and prosper, without employees.”
Employees benefit because “they want to remain healthy and passionate about their work and be well paid for it.”
Long-term employability can be divided into five factors:
Prevent back problems
Back problems biggest physical cause of absenteeism - Working in a bend-forward posture is unavoidable in a lot of professions, for example during bedside care and order picking. Regular exposure to demanding postures increase the risk of back pain. This severely reduces the pleasure people have in their work. Unfortunately lower back pain is very common.
Facts about lower back problems and pain
Lower back pain is the biggest work related ailment to the locomotor apparatus, followed by muscle aches, general fatigue and stress:
Solution: The Laevo
A unique exoskeleton as back support -The Laevo is a unique exoskeleton, a wearable back support that supports users while working in a bend-forward posture or lifting objects. The wearable frame carries part of the upper body weight of the user, thereby decreasing the strain on the lower back. Defining the Laevo as an innovative posture support tool that improves the long-term employability of employees. Because
it is a wearable device it moves with the user between different workplaces (from bed to bed, from pallet to pallet).
What makes the Laevo unique is its patented, flexible structure. This provides support while still allowing the user to walk around and move their upper body. Aside from this physical effect there Laevo also improved awareness of the user with regards to their
posture. In combination with the ‘smart hinge’, the supported user can bend all the way to the ground.
It is the combination of the reduced physical strain and increased mental awareness that provides such an improvement to both the long-term employability and the enjoyment of the user.
Why the Laevo is effective
The back - The spinal column consists of 33 vertebrae of which 24 are interconnected by elastic intervertebral discs. These, combined with several different muscles and tendons, make up the anatomy of the back. Working together they make it possible for the upper body to move forward, sideways and twist.
Many people experience lower back pain: pain below the shoulder-blades and above the buttocks. Various studies have shown that there is a connection between work-related risk factors (such as heavy physical labour, bending, twisting, pulling, pushing and vibrations) and increased changes of developing lower back pain. This connection is even more prominent when the job requirements include lifting.
Natural support - When bent forward, for example to look at something, a lot of people will support themselves by placing their hands on their upper legs for support. This allows part of the load to be transferred through the arms, unto the legs. This is a natural way to relieve the stress on the back muscles and makes it easier to maintain a bend forward posture.
The Laevo does exactly the same: when bent forward, part of the upper body weight rests on the chest pads of the Laevo, this load is then transferred through the framework, unto the upper legs. Meanwhile you retain your freedom of movement, because the Laevo will move with you.
Scientific evidence - The net moment on the vertebrae decreases significantly, both during static (posture) and dynamic use (moving). This has been scientifically researched. Practical studies also show that the Laevo can be successfully integrated into the work process.
Posture support study - TNO & VU (2014)
Research from TNO (Dutch organisation for applied-scientific research) and VU University Amsterdam has shown that the EMGamplitude (muscle activity) decreased when using the Laevo by:
Test subjects without a Laevo could comfortably perform a job at a 40-degree angle for 3,2 minutes. When wearing the Laevo they could do this for 9,7 minutes, three times longer than without the Laevo!
Bending movement study - Roessingh (2013)
Roessingh Research and Development has conducted several studies concerning the effect of the Laevo. Test subjects reenacted different work related situations, such as moving objects, in a lab environment. During these tests the muscle activity (emg). reaction forces (e.g. ground pressure) and body posture was recorded.
The analytical computer model shown below depicts the calculated net moment in the back. The moment in the back determines the pressure in the vertebrae and the load on the muscles. The results show that, during the whole movement, the total muscle strain is lower, stress spikes are prevented and the pressure on the intervertebral discs decreases. Because the activity in the muscles is lowered, and not nullified, they remain active enough to prevent muscle deterioration.
The Laevo is applicable to various demanding activities, but it is most suitable for:
Examples of suitable work activities are order picking in industrial or logistic sectors, bedside care or ‘table top’ tasks.
The Laevo is less suitable in situations where bending and lifting is regularly alternated with sitting and climbing stairs. The Laevo is not designed to lift very heavy objects (see page ‘Occupational health and safety legislation’)
The Laevo for everyone
The best way to implement the Laevo is to make it accessible to everyone in the department where taxing tasks are executed. By diminishing the exposure to physical strain the risk of developing and worsening back problems will decrease.
Practical experience and test results
In 2014 the Laevo has been tested by several organizations, in both health care and industry settings. Test users filled in questionnaires before and after. A large majority of the test subjects confirms the effectiveness of the Laevo. Below you find the test results from 10 test subjects after two weeks order picking with the Laevo.
60% of the test subjects had lower back problems. According to most of them (70%), these problems are caused by their work.
An important part of successful use of the Laevo, is the awareness about the right posture for work.
The Laevo is highly appreciated. Some of the test subjects indicate that they would use the Laevo ‘only’ for two hours a day and that it is not necessary to buy the Laevo for them.
Durable employability and productivity
With Laevo, test subjects expects to work until a higher age. Walking far distances was experienced uncomfortable with this prototype. The amount of work done in a week is the same or higher.
Occupational health & safety legislation
Eliminate exposure by design - Before you purchase the Laevo, it is important to check if it is possible to change the workplace or task to improve the posture of the employees. Laevo, health and safety professionals, researchers and SZW inspection promote a ’bronaanpak’ (also known as ‘anti-lifting’, ‘zero-lifting’). The precept is: all activities which are too risky conform the directives, should be eliminated by design.
Where possible, Laevo will advise to change the task or refer to specialists like health managers of physiotherapists for advice. The Laevo is best used for tasks which contain bend-forward posture or lifting and no practical solution to reduce these postures is possible
The NIOSH is a scientifically validated calculation method which can be used to calculate how many kilogram can be lifted in a specific situation without health risks (Recommended Weight Limit, RWL). The maximum weight limit is 23 kg in the most ideal conditions. Factors like distance from the load to the body, the load to the floor and the angle between the load and the body, the frequency and the duration, determine the weight that can be lifted without health risks. Source: www.arbobondgenoten.nl
The Laevo will influence either the RWL or factors such as frequency and duration.
However, the NIOSH-norm is not really taking work posture in account. Normalized standards such as the REBA are better applicable.
Who is Laevo?
Laevo (pronounced as Lévo) is derived from the Latin word ‘Levo / Levare’, meaning to ‘lighten’ or ‘unburden’. Laevo B.V. originates from the X-arm project, a collaboration between InteSpring B.V. and Delft University of Technology that started in 2010. Since then it has developed with the support of a large advisory focus group (care givers, patients, health and safety professionals, management, SZW inspection) and extensive studies relating work practices. In the X-arm project multiple back supporting prototypes have been build and tested. The project was finalized in June 2013, shortly after that Laevo B.V. was founded with the help of Achmea. Laevo B.V. continues to develop the Laevo into a marked-ready product for both health care and industrial sectors.