Visual feedback could enhance training, rehab for upper limb amputees

ORLANDO, Fla. – The use of visual feedback may enhance upper limb prosthetic training, rehabilitation and quality of life for amputees, according to a speaker here at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium.

Ashley Knight, biomedical engineering research assistant and doctoral student at the University of South Florida, Tampa, conducted an interim analysis using the Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system to determine the effectiveness of virtual reality.

Ashley Knight


CAREN uses a 1-camera Vicon optical motion capture method to allow users to see movement with real time analysis of joint angles, forces and moments, as well as clinical reports and comparisons. It incorporates a 6 degrees-of-freedom motion base for pitch, roll, yaw and dynamic simulation; a split-belt treadmill for independent control of each leg and asymmetric training; and the “CAREN community,” a client portal knowledge base for file sharing.

For the analysis, a total of 40 reflective markers were placed at specific points and joints on the body of one able-bodied participant. The markers tracked a series of movements from the elbow, forearm, shoulder and torso, and recorded range of motion movements with and without use of virtual reality.

Future research will include data from 10 able-bodied subjects and 20 prosthesis users with a unilateral upper limb amputation, according to Knight. It will track specific activities of daily living and return to duty tasks such as reaching, lifting, carrying and donning.

Researchers expect to see improvements in movement and range of motion in amputee subjects with use of the virtual reality. They also believe training with visual feedback could reduce risk of injury, allowing the maximal functional level of independence.

“[About] 37% of amputees feel they have not been given sufficient prosthetic training and 38% of upper limb amputees do not use their device because of that,” Knight said. “Virtual reality training will provide them with a safe and interactive environment to master [range of motion] movements essential to daily tasks, all while providing real time motion along with an individualized optimal goals.” – by Shawn M. Carter


Knight A. Paper #F1. Presented at: American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium; March 9-12, 2016; Orlando, Fla.

Disclosure: Knight reports the research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


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