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At the time of this writing, the main means of control for polyarticulated self-powered hand prostheses is surface electromyography (sEMG). In the clinical setting, data collected from two electrodes are used to guide the hand movements selecting among a finite number of postures. Machine learning has been applied in the past to the sEMG signal (not in the clinical setting) with interesting results, which provide more insight on how these data could be used to improve prosthetic functionality. Researchers have mainly concentrated so far on increasing the accuracy of sEMG classification and/or regression, but, in general, a finer control implies a longer training period. A desirable characteristic would be to shorten the time needed by a patient to learn how to use the prosthesis. To this aim, we propose here a general method to reuse past experience, in the form of models synthesized from previous subjects, to boost the adaptivity of the prosthesis. Extensive tests on databases recorded from healthy subjects in controlled and noncontrolled conditions reveal that the method significantly improves the results over the baseline nonadaptive case. This promising approach might be employed to pretrain a prosthesis before shipping it to a patient, leading to a shorter training phase.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013