Enhancing the Control of Upper Limb Myoelectric Prostheses Using Radio Frequency Identification
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Multi-articulating prosthetic devices are yet to meet a control method that can match their potential. Outdated methods, like using electromyography (EMG) triggers to switch among different grips, have led people to frustration, fatigue and loss of faith. User experiences and statistics on myoelectric use and abandonment have indicated that an easier and more reliable solution is needed. It is my belief that radio frequency identification (RFID) holds the key to mitigating many of the limitations present in current methods. By allowing users to access the grips they need by approaching different RFID tags in their environment or on person, this alternative reduces the risk of uncertainty and frustration present in current methods. Furthermore, by creating a hybrid approach that allows both RFID and EMG triggers as control switches, the user can personalize the solution and decide which approach is more favorable based on different situations. The introductory chapter of this thesis provides an overview of EMG-based control for myoelectric devices. It includes both literature and a user needs analysis that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. Chapter 2 discusses RFID-based control, and introduces its enabler, morph, the Myoelectrically-Operated RFID Prosthetic Hand. It presents preliminary research on morph that served as the motivation for improving the design and the evaluation process. Chapter 3 explains the design improvements that were implemented to bring morph to a market level design that better addresses the needs of amputees. Chapter 4 presents the clinical evaluation study that is used to evaluate RFID-based control in comparison to EMG-based control. It includes tests for both able-bodied subjects and amputee subjects. Chapter 5 presents the results of a subset of experiments from the clinical evaluation study, and discusses further improvements to optimize the clinical evaluation. The concluding chapter provides a future direction for the design and evaluation. It also presents my opinion on how the myoelectric prosthesis will evolve, and how I envision morph as fitting into the future of the myoelectric device. By the end of the thesis, I hope that the reader better understands the challenges in controlling myoelectric devices, and how morph may increase function and confidence in myoelectric users.