University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Motor Control and Learning with Lower-Limb Myoelectric Control in Amputees


Alcaide-Aguirre RE, Morgenroth DC, Ferris DP



Publication Info:

Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 50(5):687-698


Advances in robotic technology have recently enabled the development of powered lower-limb prosthetic limbs. A major hurdle in developing commercially successful powered prostheses is the control interface. Myoelectric signals are one way for prosthetic users to provide feedforward volitional control of prosthesis mechanics. The goal of this study was to assess motor learning in people with lower-limb amputation using proportional myoelectric control from residual-limb muscles. We examined individuals with transtibial amputation and nondisabled controls performing tracking tasks of a virtual object. We assessed how quickly the individuals with amputation improved their performance and whether years since amputation correlated with performance. At the beginning of training, subjects with amputation performed much worse than control subjects. By the end of a short training period, tracking error did not significantly differ between subjects with amputation and nondisabled subjects. Initial but not final performance correlated significantly with time since amputation. This study demonstrates that although subjects with amputation may initially have poor volitional control of their residual lower-limb muscles, training can substantially improve their volitional control. These findings are encouraging for the future use of proportional myoelectric control of powered lower-limb prostheses.

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