Development of a CUELA back monitor for the display of spinal stresses in real time

Project No. IFA 4198


completed 11/2013


In the course of the "Think of me. Love, your back" prevention campaign, a number of illustrative exhibits were developed for use at events (such as health days and trade fairs) which were intended to raise awareness for the topic of "work-related back load". The exhibits were available on loan during the campaign for use by the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions. For this purpose, a back monitor was developed based upon the CUELA measurement system by means of which back stresses can be displayed in real time. In conjunction with a load-handling exercise, this enables the stress upon the back to be visualized in a range of postures during the handling of loads. Since loan of the equipment was conditional upon the user being trained, a training concept and manual were produced.


The CUELA back monitor consists of a lightweight jacket into which three-dimensional inertia sensors are integrated. The sensors can be connected via a USB interface to a laptop. The back stresses can then be displayed in real time by means of a dedicated software application. At events, willing test subjects have the opportunity to don the sensor jacket and simulate everyday situations such as the unloading of items from a car boot or the lifting of a load. Whilst they perform the tasks, they are able to view a display in real time of the compressive forces arising on the intervertebral discs in the corresponding discrete situations. The forces are determined by an integrated biomechanical model. The illustrative display is enhanced by evaluation of the stress according to the traffic-light model (green to red with increasing severity). The "CUELA back exercise" events module as a whole comprises the sensor jackets (in two different sizes) and the associated computer, a display panel with a large screen, information material, and components for a load exercise.


The CUELA back monitor was made available for loan in time for the launch of the "Think of me. Love, your back" campaign. Altogether, two complete sets of the CUELA back exercise were supplied at the launch of the campaign. Owing to the strong demand, reflected by almost 50 loans and over 80 trained users in the first year of the campaign, the decision was taken to produce two further CUELA back exercise sets for 2014 and to add them to the pool of events modules. The strong demand and the fact that the modules were fully booked as a result also led to a total of seven accident insurance institutions placing orders with the IFA for the manufacture of further sets. These were produced and delivered to the customers before the end of 2013.

Last Update:

2 May 2016


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • UV-übergreifend

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

handling of loads, design of work and technology


ergonomics, physical strain/stress, musculoskeletal disorders (except cancer)

Description, key words:

measurement system, CUELA, spinal stresses, online, DGUV prevention campaign, back, biomechanical model, stress tasks, trade-fair exhibit