Research Article: EMG pattern recognition compared to foot control of the DEKA Arm

Date Published: October 18, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Linda J. Resnik, Frantzy Acluche, Matthew Borgia, Jill Cancio, Gail Latlief, Samuel Phillips, Nicole Sasson, Jacobus P. van Wouwe.


EMG pattern recognition control (EMG-PR) is a promising option for control of upper limb prostheses with multiple degrees of freedom (DOF). The purposes of this study were to 1) evaluate outcomes of EMG-PR and inertial measurement units (IMU) control of the DEKA Arm as compared to personal prosthesis; and 2) compare outcomes of EMG-PR to IMU control of DEKA Arm.

This was a quasi-experimental, multi-site study with repeated measures that compared non-randomized groups using two types of controls: EMG-PR and IMUs. Subjects (N = 36) were transradial (TR) and transhumeral (TH) amputees. Outcomes were collected at Baseline (using personal prosthesis), and after in-laboratory training (Part A), and home use (Part B). Data was compared to personal prosthesis, stratified by amputation level and control type. Outcomes were also compared by control type.

The EMG-PR group had greater prosthesis use after Part A, but worse dexterity, lower satisfaction, and slower activity performance compared to Baseline; the IMU group had slower activity performance. After Part B, the EMG-PR group had less perceived activity difficulty; the IMU group had improved activity performance, improved disability and activity difficulty, but slower performance. No differences were observed for TH group by control type in Part A or B. The TR group using EMG-PR had worse dexterity (Parts A & B), and activity performance (Part A) as compared to IMU users.

Findings suggest that for the TR group that IMUs are a more effective control method for the DEKA Arm as compared to the EMG-PR prototypes employed in this study. Further research is needed to refine the EMG-PR systems for multi-DOF devices. Future studies should include a larger sample of TH amputees. NCT01551420.

Partial Text

The human arm and hand, with more than 20 degrees of freedom (DOF) is extremely dexterous, exquisitely sensitive, and adept in performing physical and self-care, as well as communication activities. Complete replacement of a missing limb through prosthetic substitution is inherently challenging, given the myriad functions of the upper limb. One inherent challenge is restoration of multiple DOF of the limb, which allows the end effector (or hand) to be used within a wide sphere of movement. [1]

This study quantified outcomes of EMG-PR control and IMU control of the DEKA Arm and compared outcomes of the DEKA Arm to conventional prostheses for subjects who used a personal prosthesis. It also compared outcomes by amputation level for groups of subjects who utilized EMG-PR control and IMU control of the DEKA Arm.

Scores of measures of dexterity, prosthetic satisfaction, speed of activity performance when using an EMG-PR controlled DEKA Arm after in-laboratory training were worse than Baseline scores measured using a conventional prostheses. After home use experience, EMG-PR users reported less difficulty in activities. In comparison, users of an IMU controlled DEKA Arm had equivalent outcomes as compared to baseline except for speed of activity performance which was slower. After home use, users of the IMU controlled DEKA Arm had better activity performance, less disability and activity difficulty. However, speed of performance was still slower than measured with conventional prostheses at Baseline. Direct comparisons between groups using EMG-PR and IMU control of the DEKA Arm showed that for subjects with TR amputation, EMG-PR was associated with worse dexterity and activity performance. There were no differences observed by control type for subjects with TH amputation.




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