Control of upper limb prostheses: terminology and proportional myoelectric control-a review

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2012 Sep;20(5):663-77. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2012.2196711. Epub 2012 May 30.


The recent introduction of novel multifunction hands as well as new control paradigms increase the demand for advanced prosthetic control systems. In this context, an unambiguous terminology and a good understanding of the nature of the control problem is important for efficient research and communication concerning the subject. Thus, one purpose of this paper is to suggest an unambiguous taxonomy, applicable to control systems for upper limb prostheses and also to prostheses in general. A functionally partitioned model of the prosthesis control problem is also presented along with the taxonomy. In the second half of the paper, the suggested taxonomy has been exploited in a comprehensive literature review on proportional myoelectric control of upper limb prostheses. The review revealed that the methods for system training have not matured at the same pace as the novel multifunction prostheses and more advanced intent interpretation methods. Few publications exist regarding the choice of training method and the composition of the training data set. In this context, the notion of outcome measures is essential. By definition, system training involves optimization, and the quality of the results depends heavily on the choice of appropriate optimization criteria. In order to further promote the development of proportional myoelectric control, these topics need to be addressed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*