A novel five degree of freedom user command controller in people with spinal cord injury and non-injured for full upper extremity neuroprostheses, wearable powered orthoses and prosthetics

Med Biol Eng Comput. 2013 Mar;51(3):317-30. doi: 10.1007/s11517-012-0996-3. Epub 2012 Dec 13.


An independent lifestyle requires the ability to place the hand in the complete workspace in concert with hand grasp and release. A novel user command controller monitoring head position for purpose of controlling hand location and orientation is proposed and demonstrated. The controller detected five degrees of freedom which were applied to upper limb movements including forearm and hand placement in three-dimensional space. The controller was evaluated by having subjects complete tracking tasks manipulating a simulated on-screen upper limb representation. Thirteen of the eighteen subjects assessed using the controller had sustained a spinal cord injury at or above the sixth cervical vertebra. Two of the injured subjects with decreased cervical spine mobility were unable to operate the controller. The remaining subjects performed the tracking tasks effectively after minimal training. This simple five-degree of freedom controller has been proposed for the use by those disabled by upper limb amputation, paralysis, weakness or hypertonicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiology
  • Female
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Man-Machine Systems*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Prostheses*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Self-Help Devices
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Task Performance and Analysis