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Humans Can Integrate Force Feedback to Toes in Their Sensorimotor Control of a Robotic Hand

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5 Author(s)
Panarese, A. ; ARTSLab, Scuola Super Sant Anna, Pontedera, Italy ; Edin, B.B. ; Vecchi, F. ; Carrozza, M.C.
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Tactile sensory feedback is essential for dexterous object manipulation. Users of hand myoelectric prostheses without tactile feedback must depend essentially on vision to control their device. Indeed, improved tactile feedback is one of their main priorities. Previous research has provided evidence that conveying tactile feedback can improve prostheses control, although additional effort is required to solve problems related to pattern recognition learning, unpleasant sensations, sensory adaptation, and low spatiotemporal resolution. Still, these studies have mainly focused on providing stimulation to hairy skin regions close to the amputation site, i.e., usually to the upper arm. Here, we explored the possibility to provide tactile feedback to the glabrous skin of toes, which have mechanical and neurophysiological properties similar to the fingertips. We explored this paradigm in a grasp-and-lift task, in which healthy participants controlled two opposing digits of a robotic hand by changing the spacing of their index finger and thumb. The normal forces applied by the robotic fingertips to a test object were fed back to the right big and second toe. We show that within a few lifting trials, all the participants incorporated the force feedback received by the foot in their sensorimotor control of the robotic hand.

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Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 6 )