Real-time simultaneous and proportional myoelectric control using intramuscular EMG.
Objective. Myoelectric prostheses use electromyographic (EMG) signals to control movement of prosthetic joints. Clinically available myoelectric control strategies do not allow simultaneous movement of multiple degrees of freedom (DOFs); however, the use of implantable devices that record intramuscular EMG signals could overcome this constraint. The objective of this study was to evaluate the real-time simultaneous control of three DOFs (wrist rotation, wrist flexion/extension, and hand open/close) using intramuscular EMG. Approach. We evaluated task performance of five able-bodied subjects in a virtual environment using two control strategies with fine-wire EMG: (i) parallel dual-site differential control, which enabled simultaneous control of three DOFs and (ii) pattern recognition control, which required sequential control of DOFs. Main results. Over the course of the experiment, subjects using parallel dual-site control demonstrated increased use of simultaneous control and improved performance in a Fitts' Law test. By the end of the experiment, performance using parallel dual-site control was significantly better (up to a 25% increase in throughput) than when using sequential pattern recognition control for tasks requiring multiple DOFs. The learning trends with parallel dual-site control suggested that further improvements in performance metrics were possible. Subjects occasionally experienced difficulty in performing isolated single-DOF movements with parallel dual-site control but were able to accomplish related Fitts' Law tasks with high levels of path efficiency. Significance. These results suggest that intramuscular EMG, used in a parallel dual-site configuration, can provide simultaneous control of a multi-DOF prosthetic wrist and hand and may outperform current methods that enforce sequential control.