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Leg Muscles Could Be Used to Control Prosthetic Arms

A study conducted at the University of California, Davis, used
surface EMG sensors placed on participants’ lower legs to test a
noninvasive approach to control prosthetic elbow, wrist, and hand
movements with minimal training. The researchers concluded that the
method could benefit prosthesis users who have upper-limb amputations
proximal to the elbow and lack residual arm muscles needed to control
traditional myoelectric prostheses.

 The authors
noted that while surface EMG has become more common for prosthesis
control, the lack of residual muscle sites remains an obstacle to its
use by people with high-level amputations, and that myoelectric
prosthesis control for this group suffers from invasiveness, the need
for intensive training, and the lack of functionality.

Using
able-bodied subjects to facilitate a direct comparison between control
using intact arm and leg muscles, the researchers conducted a target
achievement control test to evaluate real-time control performance in
three and four degrees of freedom and concluded that after approximately
20 minutes of training, the subjects tended to perform the task as well
with the leg as with intact arm muscles, and performance overall was
comparable to other control methods.

The study was published in the May issue of IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.

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