Students at American International are working on a project they hope will help American workers compete globally. The students, physical therapy majors, are studying the possibility of using exoskeletal assisting arms for workers in the manufacturing setting.

The students are working on the project for the toy and game maker Hasbro and Equipois, a Los Angeles-based company that manufactures patented exoskeletal arm technology to reduce injuries, increase productivity, and decrease costs in the workplace.

Physical Therapy student Michael Srokowski said the device increases productivity by decreasing muscle pressure and thus reducing injuries. "It's an anti gravity exoskeletal device that enables you to keep your arm upright and use less muscles in the trapezius area, thereby reducing risk of injury and increasing productivity."

AIC Physical Therapy professor Patrick Carley said the students were asked to evaluate the level of muscle activity, using electromyography, to assess the difference in effort from workers and more importantly, what settings would be the best to benefit those working on the line.

"The major problem that arose was the arm attachment. It was coming loose and disengaged from the workers. It was actually one of the students, Kate Olson in the PT program that came up with the solution. It took a month for the company to modify according to Kate's suggestions, but the outcome is easy to see ... it was a success!"

Carley said they will be going back into Hasbro to formalize the cost-benefit study to use this new equipment at a number of different levels.