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An Empirical Evaluation of Force Feedback in Body-Powered Prostheses

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An Empirical Evaluation of Force Feedback in Body-Powered Prostheses
Myoelectric prostheses have many advantages over body-powered prostheses, yet the absence of sensory feedback in myoelectric devices is one reason body-powered devices are often preferred by amputees. While considerable progress has been made in the mechanical design and control of myoelectric prostheses, research on haptic feedback has not had a similar impact. In this study, we seek to develop a fundamental understanding of the utility of force feedback and vision in the functional operation of a body-powered upper-limb prosthesis. Using a custom body-powered prosthesis in which force feedback can be conditionally removed, we asked N=10 non-amputee participants to identify objects based on stiffness in four separate conditions with and without visual and/or force feedback. Results indicate that the combination of visual and force feedback allows for the best accuracy, followed by force feedback only, then visual feedback only. In addition, combining force feedback with visual feedback does not significantly affect identification timing compared to visual feedback alone. These findings suggest that consideration should be given to the development of force feedback displays for myoelectric prostheses that function like a Bowden cable, coupling the amputee’s control input to the resulting feedback.

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