Learning to Control Opening and Closing a Myoelectric Hand


      Bouwsema H, van der Sluis CK, Bongers RM. Learning to control opening and closing a myoelectric hand.


      To compare 3 different types of myoelectric signal training.


      A cohort analytic study.


      University laboratory.


      Able-bodied right-handed participants (N=34) randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups.


      Participants trained hand opening and closing on 3 consecutive days. One group trained with a virtual myoelectric hand presented on a computer screen, 1 group trained with an isolated prosthetic hand, and 1 group trained with a prosthetic simulator. One half of the participants trained with their dominant side, and the other half trained with their nondominant side. Before and after the training period, a test was administered to determine the improvement in skill. Participants were asked to open and close the hand on 3 different velocities at command.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Peak velocity, mean velocity, and number of peaks in the myoelectric signal of hand opening and closing.


      No differences were found for the different types of training; all participants learned to control the myoelectric hand. However, differences in learning abilities were revealed. After learning, a subgroup of the participants could produce clearly distinct myoelectric signals, which resulted in the ability to open and close the hand at 3 different speeds, whereas others could not produce distinct myoelectric signals.


      Acquired control of a myoelectric hand is irrespective of the type of training. Prosthetic users may differ in learning capacity; this should be taken into account when choosing the appropriate type of control for each patient.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      ANOVA (analysis of variance), EMG (electromyogram), LED (light-emitting diode), PAULA (Prosthetists' Assistant for Upper Limb Architecture)
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