User training for machine learning controlled upper limb prostheses: a serious game approach

Morten B Kristoffersen*, Andreas W Franzke, Raoul M Bongers, Michael Wand, Alessio Murgia, Corry K van der Sluis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Upper limb prosthetics with multiple degrees of freedom (DoFs) are still mostly operated through the clinical standard Direct Control scheme. Machine learning control, on the other hand, allows controlling multiple DoFs although it requires separable and consistent electromyogram (EMG) patterns. Whereas user training can improve EMG pattern quality, conventional training methods might limit user potential. Training with serious games might lead to higher quality EMG patterns and better functional outcomes. In this explorative study we compare outcomes of serious game training with conventional training, and machine learning control with the users' own one DoF prosthesis.

METHODS: Participants with upper limb absence participated in 7 training sessions where they learned to control a 3 DoF prosthesis with two grips which was fitted. Participants received either game training or conventional training. Conventional training was based on coaching, as described in the literature. Game-based training was conducted using two games that trained EMG pattern separability and functional use. Both groups also trained functional use with the prosthesis donned. The prosthesis system was controlled using a neural network regressor. Outcome measures were EMG metrics, number of DoFs used, the spherical subset of the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure and the Clothespin Relocation Test.

RESULTS: Eight participants were recruited and four completed the study. Training did not lead to consistent improvements in EMG pattern quality or functional use, but some participants improved in some metrics. No differences were observed between the groups. Participants achieved consistently better results using their own prosthesis than the machine-learning controlled prosthesis used in this study.

CONCLUSION: Our explorative study showed in a small group of participants that serious game training seems to achieve similar results as conventional training. No consistent improvements were found in either group in terms of EMG metrics or functional use, which might be due to insufficient training. This study highlights the need for more research in user training for machine learning controlled prosthetics. In addition, this study contributes with more data comparing machine learning controlled prosthetics with Direct Controlled prosthetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12-Feb-2021


  • Serious games
  • Machine learning
  • Prosthesis
  • Motor learning
  • EMG
  • Structured training

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