Advances in microprocessor technology in recent years have led to the introduction
of programmable control systems for powered prosthetics. These systems allow amputees
to try a variety of control schemes and choose the one that suits them best. Prosthetists,
no longer limited to preprogrammed control schemes, can devise new schemes that are
suited for the amputee's individual needs. Over the past few years, Bloorview MacMillan
Centre has fit approximately 20 clients with programmable control systems. A retrospective
analysis of this group, which includes amputation levels fiom below-elbow to shoulder
disarticulation, demonstrates the benefits this approach. The benefits fall into four
general categories: 1) evolution of the control system as the user's needs and abilities
change, 2) the amputee's ability to choose their own preferred strategy, 3) accommodation
of abnormal and noisy signals and 4) ability to accommodate high-level amputees. This
paper will summarize our clinical experience with programmable control. Case studies
illustrating this approach and its various benefits will be presented.
From "MEC 99," Proceedings of the 1999 MyoElectric Controls/Powered Prosthetics Symposium
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: August, 1999. Copyright University of New Brunswick.
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