Perception and control of low cable operation forces in voluntary closing body-powered upper-limb prostheses

Mona Hichert*, David A. Abbink, Alistair N. Vardy, Corry K. van der Sluis, Wim G.M. Janssen, Michael A.H. Brouwers, Dick H. Plettenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Operating a body-powered prosthesis can be painful and tiring due to high cable operation forces, illustrating that low cable operation forces are a desirable design property for body-powered prostheses. However, lower operation forces might negatively affect controllability and force perception, which is plausible but not known. This study aims to quantify the accuracy of cable force perception and control for body-powered prostheses in a low cable operation force range by utilizing isometric and dynamic force reproduction experiments. Twenty-five subjects with trans-radial absence conducted two force reproduction tasks; first an isometric task of reproducing 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 40 N and second a force reproduction task of 10 and 20 N, for cable excursions of 10, 20, 40, 60 and 80 mm. Task performance was quantified by the force reproduction error and the variability in the generated force. The results of the isometric experiment demonstrated that increasing force levels enlarge the force variability, but do not influence the force reproduction error for the tested force range. The second experiment showed that increased cable excursions resulted in a decreased force reproduction error, for both tested force levels, whereas the force variability remained unchanged. In conclusion, the design recommendations for voluntary closing body-powered prostheses suggested by this study are to minimize cable operation forces: this does not affect force reproduction error but does reduce force variability. Furthermore, increased cable excursions facilitate users with additional information to meet a target force more accurately.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225263
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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