EXOTURN (2020-…)


(Inria-COVID project; 2020-…)

ExoTurn is an interdisciplinary project that was rapidly started in March 2020 to help the Hospital of Nancy in the fight against the COVID-19. The project is coordinated jointly by Serena Ivaldi (Inria) and Dr. Nicla Settembre (Hospital of Nancy) with the participation of INRS, CNRS and University of Lorraine.

The goal of the project is to investigate the feasibility and help of back-support exoskeletons to assist the medical staff during the exhausting procedures of Prone Positioning (PP) maneuvers in the ICU. Prone Positioning is a complex procedure that is necessary during treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) to optimise oxygenation.

Between March and April 2020, we conducted a pilot study in simulation at the Simulation Center of the Hospital of Nancy (Hôpital Virtuel de Lorraine), to evaluate the need of back-support and probe into 4 commercial exoskeleton to find the most suitable to assist the medical staff in this task. We identified a promising candidate in the passive exoskeleton Laevo. In a second phase, the Laevo was used in the ICU by volunteers of a PP team. The participants perceived a physical benefit in using the exoskeleton, and a positive acceptance of this technology was observed in both the users of the exoskeleton and their colleagues. A short letter describing the pilot study was published in May 2020 in the journal Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medecine.

We are currently preparing new studies to clarify the beneficial effects of the exoskeleton for PP maneuvers, particularly with validated physiological measures that can be used in the ICU.



  • Settembre, N.; Maurice, P.; Paysant, J.; Theurel, J.; Claudon, L.; Kimmoun, A.; Levy, B.; Chenuel, B.; Ivaldi, S. (2020) The use of exoskeletons to help with prone positioning in the intensive care unit during COVID-19. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medecine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rehab.2020.05.004
    [PDF | web]
  • Ivaldi, S.; Maurice, P.; Gomez, W.; Theurel, J.; Wioland, L.; Atain-Kouadio, J.-J.; Claudon, L.; Hani, H.; Kimmoun, A.; Sellal, J.-M.; Levy, B.; Paysant, J.; Malikov, S.; Chenuel, B.; Settembre, N. (2102) Using exoskeletons to assist medical staff during prone positioning of mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients: a pilot study. Int. Conf. Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2021).
    [PDF preprint with all supplementary materials]

Video (in French)


Click on the photo to get it in high resolution

The Xsens MVN suit is used to track the motion of the humans performing the PP maneuver.

Two Laevo exoskeletons tested by physicians performing a PP on a patient simulator in the Virtual Hospital of Lorraine (CUESim).

The Laevo exoskeleton must be worn under the protective blouse in the ICU.

The real situation of Prone Positioning in the ICU (this is a screenshot from the France 5 TV reportage).

In the press


France 5 (2020) Reportage with nice images of the exoskeletons used in the ICU (tweet)

France 3 (2020) Reportage at the Virtual Hospital (CUESim) (link to article of France 3 with the video extract) (article of the CHRU Nancy) (link video on youtube)