Engineers at an English University have created a human torso simulator in a bid to boost back support innovation.

Lancaster University's simulator features a male torso-shaped mechanical test rig, alongside computer simulation models. It was created with geometries and other properties that act like human tissues.

The simulator can be setup for different spine configurations and deformities, such as scoliosis.

Testing embryonic back brace designs on humans raises logistical and ethical issues. Lancaster University say its torso simulator allows designers to trial different configurations before testing them on humans.

Dr David Cheneler, part of the Lancaster University team that created the torso simulator, said: “Back braces have been used as both medical and retail products for decades, however existing designs can often be found to be heavy, overly rigid, indiscreet and uncomfortable.

“Our simulator enables new back braces to be developed that are optimised to constrain particular motions but allowing for other movements. It could also help with the design of braces and supports with targeted restriction of movement, which would be beneficial to some conditions and helping to reduce the risk of muscle-loss.”