A CASE FOR EXTENDED PHYSIOLOGICAL PROPRIOCEPTION.
Dick H. Plettenburg, Ph.D.
WILMER Research, Man Machine Systems and Control
Faculty of Design & Engineering, Delft University of Technology
Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands
To achieve subconscious prosthetic control the patient feedback present must be
employed as completely as possible. This implies the use of control methods based
upon the principles of extended physiological proprioception.
The harnessing of body movements has the inherent ability to fully employ the
principles of extended physiological proprioception. However, the present harnessing
techniques often fail to do so and are generally of a dreadful engineering quality.
Myoelectrical control must be considered as an open loop system. It lacks by principle any
The challenge for the prosthetic profession is to focus research on [improvement of]
control options that comply with the rules of extended physiological proprioception.
Promising future control options may result from the research into miniature cineplasties,
in combination with neuro-muscular reorganization, and from the research into neuro-
Many prostheses are not being used. Numerous surveys of the actual use of
prostheses have been made [a.o. 2, 7, 13, 14, 19]. Although the outcome of these
surveys must be considered with care, as most of them are not based on a sound
methodological approach, most are retrospective and do not use a control-group ,
they all indicate a 40 - 60 % of non-users for activities of daily living, vocational activities
and leisure activities. Moreover, most studies indicate a 20 - 40 % of non-wearers.
People with an arm defect get very frustrated about the performance of their prosthesis
shortly after being supplied with one. So after a while the prosthesis finishes up in the
closet. The frustration is caused by the discrepancy between the expectations and the
reality. This discrepancy is due to inadequate information and inadequate education of
the patient, to incompetent professionals, and to inadequate equipment .
A patient wants and expects a prosthesis that looks naturally beautiful, that is
comfortable to wear and that is easy to use. Unfortunately none of the existing
prostheses fulfills all these demands. This poses a challenge to the engineers of the
WILMER group to try and develop new prosthetic devices that more closely meet the
needs of the patients. In our opinion these needs can be summarized as cosmetics,
From “MEC '02 The Next Generation,” Proceedings of the 2002 MyoElectric Controls/Powered Prosthetics Symposium
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: August 21–23, 2002. Copyright University of New Brunswick.
Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License by
UNB and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, through a partnership with Duke University and the Open Prosthetics Project.