We investigated whether adding vibrotactile feedback to a myoelectric-controlled hand, when visual feedback is disturbed, can improve performance during a functional test. For this purpose, able-bodied subjects, activating a myoelectric-controlled hand attached to their right hand performed the modified Box & Blocks test, grasping and manipulating wooden blocks over a partition. This was performed in 3 conditions, using a repeated-measures design: in full light, in a dark room where visual feedback was disturbed and no auditory feedback - one time with the addition of tactile feedback provided during object grasping and manipulation, and one time without any tactile feedback. The average time needed to transfer one block was measured, and an infrared camera was used to give information on the number of grasping errors during performance of the test. Our results show that when vibrotactile feedback was provided, performance time was reduced significantly, compared with when no vibrotactile feedback was available. Furthermore, the accuracy of grasping and manipulation was improved, reflected by significantly fewer errors during test performance. In conclusion, adding vibrotactile feedback to a myoelectric-controlled hand has positive effects on functional performance when visual feedback is disturbed. This may have applications to current myoelectric-controlled hands, as adding tactile feedback may help prosthesis users to improve their functional ability during daily life activities in different environments, particularly when limited visual feedback is available or desirable.
Keywords: Myoelectric prostheses; Sensorimotor control; Upper limb amputation; Visual feedback.
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