Vibrational Feedback Training System for Use with SEMG Controlled Powered Prostheses
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Loss of limb results in loss of function and a partial loss of freedom. A powered prosthetic device can partially assist an individual with everyday tasks and therefore return some level of independence. Powered upper limb prostheses are often controlled by the user generating surface electromyographic (SEMG) signals. The goal of this thesis is to develop a virtual environment in which a user can control a virtual hand to safely grasp representations of everyday objects using EMG signals from his/her forearm muscles, and experience visual and vibrotactile feedback relevant to the grasping force in the process. This can then be used to train potential wearers of real EMG controlled prostheses, with or without vibrotactile feedback. To test this system an experiment was designed and executed involving ten subjects, twelve objects, and three feedback conditions. The tested feedback conditions were visual, vibrotactile, and both visual and vibrotactile. In each experimental exercise the subject attempted to grasp a virtual object on the screen using the virtual hand controlled by EMG electrodes placed on his/her forearm. Two metrics were used: score, and time to task completion, where score measured grasp dexterity. It was hypothesized that with the introduction of vibrotactile feedback, dexterity, and therefore score, would improve and time to task completion would decrease. Results showed that time to task completion increased, and score did not improve with vibrotactile feedback. Details on the developed system, the experiment, and the results are presented in this thesis.