Comparison of electromyography and force as interfaces for prosthetic control

Elaine A. Corbett, Eric J. Perreault, Todd A. Kuiken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The ease with which persons with upper-limb amputations can control their powered prostheses is largely determined by the efficacy of the user command interface. One needs to understand the abilities of the human operator regarding the different available options. Electromyography (EMG) is widely used to control powered upper-limb prostheses. It is an indirect estimator of muscle force and may be expected to limit the control capabilities of the prosthesis user. This study compared EMG control with force control, an interface that is used in everyday interactions with the environment. We used both methods to perform a position-tracking task. Direct-position control of the wrist provided an upper bound for human-operator capabilities. The results demonstrated that an EMG control interface is as effective as force control for the position-tracking task. We also examined the effects of gain and tracking frequency on EMG control to explore the limits of this control interface. We found that information transmission rates for myoelectric control were best at higher tracking frequencies than at the frequencies previously reported for position control. The results may beuseful for the design of prostheses and prosthetic controllers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-642
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011


  • Emg velocity control
  • Force control
  • Human operator
  • Human-operator bandwidth
  • Information transmission rate
  • Myoelectric control
  • Position control
  • Prosthesis control
  • Tracking frequency
  • Tracking task
  • Velocity gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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