The clinical relevance of advanced artificial feedback in the control of a multi-functional myoelectric prosthesis

Posted on 2018-03-27 - 05:00
Abstract Background To effectively replace the human hand, a prosthesis should seamlessly respond to user intentions but also convey sensory information back to the user. Restoration of sensory feedback is rated highly by the prosthesis users, and feedback is critical for grasping in able-bodied subjects. Nonetheless, the benefits of feedback in prosthetics are still debated. The lack of consensus is likely due to the complex nature of sensory feedback during prosthesis control, so that its effectiveness depends on multiple factors (e.g., task complexity, user learning). Methods We evaluated the impact of these factors with a longitudinal assessment in six amputee subjects, using a clinical setup (socket, embedded control) and a range of tasks (box and blocks, block turn, clothespin and cups relocation). To provide feedback, we have proposed a novel vibrotactile stimulation scheme capable of transmitting multiple variables from a multifunction prosthesis. The subjects wore a bracelet with four by two uniformly placed vibro-tactors providing information on contact, prosthesis state (active function), and grasping force. The subjects also completed a questionnaire for the subjective evaluation of the feedback. Results The tests demonstrated that feedback was beneficial only in the complex tasks (block turn, clothespin and cups relocation), and that the training had an important, task-dependent impact. In the clothespin relocation and block turn tasks, training allowed the subjects to establish successful feedforward control, and therefore, the feedback became redundant. In the cups relocation task, however, the subjects needed some training to learn how to properly exploit the feedback. The subjective evaluation of the feedback was consistently positive, regardless of the objective benefits. These results underline the multifaceted nature of closed-loop prosthesis control as, depending on the context, the same feedback interface can have different impact on performance. Finally, even if the closed-loop control does not improve the performance, it could be beneficial as it seems to improve the subjective experience. Conclusions Therefore, in this study we demonstrate, for the first time, the relevance of an advanced, multi-variable feedback interface for dexterous, multi-functional prosthesis control in a clinically relevant setting.


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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation


Marko Markovic
Meike Schweisfurth
Leonard Engels
Tashina Bentz
Daniela WĂźstefeld
Dario Farina
Strahinja Dosen
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