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Advanced prosthetic hands

Prosthetic hands are conventionally designed so that the user has to actively control the pressure exerted by the thumb and fingers. This results in a restricted range of actions as a user can generate only a limited range of signals through a myoelectric interface. The advanced prosthetic hand developed during this project is also controlled by myoelectric signals, but responds to discrete commands for grasp or movement. The microelectronic and sensor technology built into the hand implements each command, detects the slippage of objects being grasped, and automatically adjusts the pressure exerted by thumb and fingers.

For the clinical phase a subject was chosen from the patients attending the Oxfordshire Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre. Selection was followed by assessment for electrode placement and whether the subject could generate sufficient myoelectric signals. Once the potential user had sufficient experience, the socket was cast and the standard procedures followed up to fit the custom wrist section to the arm. Further training with the myo-training software was followed by bench training of the hand, preceding final integration of the hand and arm for full training and the testing of various prehension exercises. The first Oxford subject was effectively new to myoelectric control and thus a good guide to the ease by which people can grasp the new concepts of the control scheme. Experience showed that the established user may require a little longer to appreciate the improvement in control afforded by the MARCUS technique, but this is outweighed by their existing aptitude for myo-signal production.

Reported by

Technology Applications Group
5 Bolams Mill Dispensary Street
NE66 1LN Alnwick
United Kingdom
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