Training enhances volitional control in lower limb amputees

Amputees may initially have poor volitional control of their residual lower limb muscles; however, training can substantially improve their volitional control, according to recently published data.

Researchers examined nine unilateral transtibial amputees and 13 nondisabled individuals controlling a virtual object on a computer screen in an attempt to match a virtual target, and assessed how quickly amputees improved their performance and whether years since amputation correlated with performance. Amputees performed worse at the task during the initial static and dynamic trials vs. the control group. However, but the end of the short training period, researchers found no significant difference in tracking error between amputees and the control group. The control group showed an average improvement of 50% and the amputees improved by an average of 66% by the final trials.

“These findings are encouraging for the use of residual limb proportional myoelectric control to improve powered lower limb prosthetic devices,” the researchers concluded. “Further studies using proportional myoelectric control during gait are warranted to assess the degree of motor learning and performance by people with amputation.”

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Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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