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Usability study of a smart transfer-assistive robot with dual arms for care workers.

PURPOSE: The predicted global labor shortages and health problems for long-term care workers can be addressed by care robots. We have developed a smart transfer-assistive robot with dual arms to assist in patient transfers. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and usability of a transfer-assistive robot with dual arms for long-term care workers in the Living Lab of Kyung Hee University.

METHODS: Long-term care workers ( N  = 15) transferred healthy adults using the transfer-assistive robot and subsequently reported the workload differences of manual care and the transfer-assistive robot, as measured by the Borg rating of the perceived exertion scale (RPE) and the NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX). They also completed questionnaires on the usability of transfer-assistive robots and open-ended interviews. The RPE and NASA-TLX values for each task were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, and descriptive statistics were used to calculate demographics and usability.

RESULTS: The RPE scale indicated that the perceived physical burden was significantly reduced when using the transfer-assistive robot compared with the manual method. The robot-aided transfer method significantly reduced the physical demand in the NASA-TLX subscales. In the usability test, the averages for safety, operability, and satisfaction were all three points or higher, indicating a positive result.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that a transfer-assistive robot has the potential to reduce physical stress and the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in long-term care workers. This study shows that the robot is effective for long-term care workers suffering from the burden of the transferring/lifting action, emphasizing the need to introduce a transfer-assistive robot into the care field in South Korea.

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