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Inverse piano technique for studying finger interaction during pressing tasks

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3 Author(s)
Martin, J. ; Biomech. Lab., Penn State Univ., University Park, PA ; Latash, M. ; Zatsiorsky, V.

When a person moves or presses with an individual finger other fingers also produce a force (Kilbreath and Gandevia 1994; Li et al. 2004; Zatsiorsky et al. 2000). Several factors are known to contribute to this response: (1) peripheral mechanical coupling, (2) multi-digit motor units, and (3) diverging central commands. This phenomenon, known as enslaving, has traditionally been studied in isometric pressing tasks. The purpose of this project was to build a device, an Inverse Piano (IP), to study finger interaction in non-isometric pressing tasks. The IP allows for fingers to be unexpectedly raised or lowered during pressing tasks. Fingers are perturbed by linear motors located directly under uni-dimensional force sensors, which serve as the "piano keys". Motors are triggered using National Instruments Lab VIEW. This allows key position and finger force data to be recorded simultaneously. The IP makes possible the studying of several factors on the finger force outcome and coordination. In particular, the following factors can be explored: (a) Finger combination. There are 15 combinations of the key manipulation: four 1-finger tasks (I, M, R, L, where the letters designate the index, middle, ring, and little finger respectively); six 2-finger tasks (IM, IR, IL, MR, ML, RL); four 3-finger tasks (IMR, IML, IRL, MRL) and one 4-finger task (IMRL). (b) Predictability of the key raising. The options are innumerable but can be roughly classified into three groups: (1) both the sequence and time intervals are unknown to the subjects; (2) the sequence is known but the time intervals are unknown; and (3) both the sequence and time intervals are known in advance, (c) Amplitude of key movement. The IP is capable of displacing fingers up to 2 cm, in increments less than 1 mm. (d) The speed of key movement. The IP can vary key movement rates of between 2 mm/s to 4,687 mm/s. (e) Resistance of the keys to the external force. The resistance can mimic different mechanical properties,- - e.g. elastic resistance which is proportional to the key displacement, damping resistance proportional to the speed, dry friction, etc. The magnitude of the resistance, e.g. 'stiffness', can also be varied, (f) Feedback with various options: (1) visual feedback on the computer screen, the subject can also see his/her hand; (2) no visual feedback on the screen, however the subject can see his/her hand; and (3) no feedback on the screen, the subject cannot see his/her hand. Thus far experimentation using IP has only investigated effects of varying magnitude of displacement. The IP also has the potential to be utilized as a rehabilitation device for patients suffering a loss of dexterity and finger strength. It is possible for a variety of programs to be created that would train both finger independence and strength. One such program is illustrated in figure 1 where a target force is given on a computer screen and the patient would be instructed to match the force output of their instructed finger(s) to the target. The IP would also make it possible to give very precise quantitative feedback, on various measures of performance, to the clinician as opposed to qualitative feedback that is the staple of most current methods of rehabilitation. The purpose of the demonstration is to show the capabilities of the IP as both a research and rehabilitation device. Several custom programs will be written that allow for easy manipulation of variables (i.e. key height, speed of raising, combination of keys raised, target force feedback, etc) so that attendees, with both research and clinician backgrounds, can test the IP.

Published in:

EuroHaptics conference, 2009 and Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems. World Haptics 2009. Third Joint

Date of Conference:

18-20 March 2009

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