2018 Volume 13 Issue 2 Pages 17-00596
Ascertaining a person's motion intentions through muscle activity is important for controlling various assistive devices for people with disabilities. Several techniques have been proposed for estimating the extent of intended joint angle motion using skin deformation information derived from muscle contractions. The objective of this study is to verify our signal processing procedure for estimating intended wrist joint angle with skin deformation information in able-bodied subjects and subjects with an upper-limb amputation. Skin deformation was measured with a tactile sensor consisting of 48 distance sensors over a large measurement area. The root-mean-square error (RMSE) of the measured and estimated angles are evaluated offline using multiple linear regression in one individual with an upper-limb amputation and five able-bodied participants. In all tests, subjects undertook a wrist flexion and extension task guided by visual feedback, measured in real time. Sensors are selected in descending order of the standard deviation of each sensor's value. Strong relationships occur between the position and displacement of the area of greatest skin deformation and the intended wrist joint angle in all subjects. The minimum RMSE was 8.19° for the individual with an upper-limb amputation using 48 sensors as input, and 2.24° for able-bodied individuals using 16 sensors. One-way repeated-measures analysis of variance showed that at least 16 sensors are needed to reliably record skin deformation. Skin deformation analyzed with multiple linear regression is a plausible means of estimating intended wrist joint angle in persons with an upper-limb amputation. Even when a limited number of sensors (≥16) are used, continuous joint angle can be estimated reliably. These findings will inform the design of assistive devices that must noninvasively determine muscle activity.