User acceptance of myoelectric forearm prostheses is currently low. Awkward control, lack of feedback, and difficult training are cited as primary reasons. Recently, researchers have focused on exploiting the new possibilities offered by advancements in prosthetic technology. Alternatively, researchers could focus on prosthesis acceptance by developing functional requirements based on activities users are likely to perform. In this article, we describe the process of determining such requirements and then the application of these requirements to evaluating the state of the art in myoelectric forearm prosthesis research. As part of a needs assessment, a workshop was organized involving clinicians (representing end users), academics, and engineers. The resulting needs included an increased number of functions, lower reaction and execution times, and intuitiveness of both control and feedback systems. Reviewing the state of the art of research in the main prosthetic subsystems (electromyographic [EMG] sensing, control, and feedback) showed that modern research prototypes only partly fulfill the requirements. We found that focus should be on validating EMG-sensing results with patients, improving simultaneous control of wrist movements and grasps, deriving optimal parameters for force and position feedback, and taking into account the psychophysical aspects of feedback, such as intensity perception and spatial acuity.
- Myoelectric hand prostheses