Research ArticlePROSTHETICS

A myoelectric prosthetic hand with muscle synergy–based motion determination and impedance model–based biomimetic control

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Science Robotics  26 Jun 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 31, eaaw6339
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaw6339


Prosthetic hands are prescribed to patients who have suffered an amputation of the upper limb due to an accident or a disease. This is done to allow patients to regain functionality of their lost hands. Myoelectric prosthetic hands were found to have the possibility of implementing intuitive controls based on operator’s electromyogram (EMG) signals. These controls have been extensively studied and developed. In recent years, development costs and maintainability of prosthetic hands have been improved through three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. However, no previous studies have realized the advantages of EMG-based classification of multiple finger movements in conjunction with the introduction of advanced control mechanisms based on human motion. This paper proposes a 3D-printed myoelectric prosthetic hand and an accompanying control system. The muscle synergy–based motion-determination method and biomimetic impedance control are introduced in the proposed system, enabling the classification of unlearned combined motions and smooth and intuitive finger movements of the prosthetic hand. We evaluate the proposed system through operational experiments performed on six healthy participants and an upper-limb amputee participant. The experimental results demonstrate that our prosthetic hand system can successfully classify both learned single motions and unlearned combined motions from EMG signals with a high degree of accuracy. Furthermore, applications to real-world uses of prosthetic hands are demonstrated through control tasks conducted by the amputee participant.

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