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A textile exomuscle that assists the shoulder during functional movements for everyday life


Effortlessly performing activities of daily living constitutes a cornerstone of our personal independence. Naturally, various forms of upper limb impairments can have a substantial impact on quality of life. We developed the Myoshirt, a textile-based soft wearable robot, or exomuscle, that autonomously follows the user’s movements and thereby assists the shoulder against gravity. With the Myoshirt, participants without impairments (n = 10, 5 male) experienced a delayed onset of muscular fatigue by 51.1 s (36.1%, P < 0.001), while during a functional task their muscular activity decreased by 49.1% (P < 0.001). Analogously, two participants with upper limb impairments due to a muscular dystrophy and a spinal cord injury experienced a delayed onset of muscular fatigue during unloaded arm lifts by 256.4 s (61.5%) and by 450.6 s (210.3%), respectively. Our evidence suggests that the Myoshirt is an effective tool that intuitively assists the shoulder during functional reaching tasks, with the potential of increasing the personal independence of people with upper limb impairments.

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Fig. 1: Design of the Myoshirt.
Fig. 2: Muscular endurance task for participants without impairments.
Fig. 3: Muscle activity in a functional task.
Fig. 4: Range of motion while unassisted (None, grey) and while assisted by the Myoshirt (blue).
Fig. 5: Case study of participants with neuromuscular impairments.
Fig. 6: Gravity assistance controller.

Data availability

All (other) data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the Article are presented in the Article or Supplementary Information. The data have been deposited in the online repository at (ref. 58) and may be reused for ethical, scientific purposes.

Code availability

The exemplary scripts for data processing and analysis for this study have been deposited in the online repository at (ref. 59) and may be reused for ethical, scientific purposes.


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We thank J. Song and D. Hollinger for their valuable contributions during the development and evaluation of the Myoshirt, and furthermore the students and research staff at the Sensory–Motor Systems Lab for their contributions and helpful feedback: F. Haufe, S. Brendle, F. Teuscher, D. Ozan and M. Macuglia. Finally, we would like to thank our participants for their time and insightful feedback. This work was supported by the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics, Swiss National Science Foundation 51_NF_40_185543, received by R.R.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.-M.G. designed and created the textile human–robot interface. A.-M.G. and M.X. led the design and implementation of the actuator box and the gravity assistance controller. A.-M.G., M.X., P.W. and R.R. designed the study. A.-M.G. and M.X. led the conduct of the study. A.-M.G. analysed the data and prepared the figures and manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript and provided critical feedback.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anna-Maria Georgarakis.

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Nature Machine Intelligence thanks Leonardo Cappello, Nicola Vitiello, Alessandra Pedrocchi and Lorenzo Masia for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–5, Tables 1–5 and Sections 1 and 2.

Supplementary Video 1

The Myoshirt—a textile exomuscle that assists the shoulder during functional movements for everyday life.

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Georgarakis, AM., Xiloyannis, M., Wolf, P. et al. A textile exomuscle that assists the shoulder during functional movements for everyday life. Nat Mach Intell 4, 574–582 (2022).

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