The Development of a Myoelectric Training Tool for Above-Elbow Amputees

The Open Biomedical Engineering Journal 20 Feb 2012 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874120701206010005


The objective of above-elbow myoelectric prostheses is to reestablish the functionality of missing limbs and increase the quality of life of amputees. By using electromyography (EMG) electrodes attached to the surface of the skin, amputees are able to control motors in myoelectric prostheses by voluntarily contracting the muscles of their residual limb. This work describes the development of an inexpensive myoelectric training tool (MTT) designed to help upper limb amputees learn how to use myoelectric technology in advance of receiving their actual myoelectric prosthesis. The training tool consists of a physical and simulated robotic arm, signal acquisition hardware, controller software, and a graphical user interface. The MTT improves over earlier training systems by allowing a targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) patient to control up to two degrees of freedom simultaneously. The training tool has also been designed to function as a research prototype for novel myoelectric controllers. A preliminary experiment was performed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the MTT as a learning tool and to identify any issues with the system. Five able-bodied participants performed a motor-learning task using the EMG controlled robotic arm with the goal of moving five balls from one box to another as quickly as possible. The results indicate that the subjects improved their skill in myoelectric control over the course of the trials. A usability survey was administered to the subjects after their trials. Results from the survey showed that the shoulder degree of freedom was the most difficult to control.

Keywords: Amputee, Learning aids, Myoelectric, Training, Rehabilitation, Virtual Reality..
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