Thermophysiological aspects of wearable robotics: Challenges and opportunities

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Technological advancements in the last two decades have enabled development of a variety of mechanically supporting wearable robots (i.e. exoskeletons) that are transitioning to practice in medical and industrial settings. The feedback from industry and recent controlled studies is highlighting thermal discomfort as a major reason for the disuse of the devices and a substantial barrier to their long-term adoption. Furthermore, a brief overview of the devices and their intended applications reveals that many of the potential users are likely to face thermal comfort issues because of either high exertion or medically related high heat sensitivity. The aim of this review is to discuss these emerging thermal challenges and opportunities surrounding wearable robots. This review discusses mechanisms, potential solutions, and a platform for systematically measuring heat transfer inhibition caused by wearing of an exoskeleton. Lastly, the potential for substantial metabolic rate reduction provided by exoskeletons to reduce worker thermal strain in warm-to-hot conditions is also considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Thermal comfort
  • exoskeleton
  • personal cooling
  • wearable robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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