Technology at the Clinic

Myoelectric Controls

Some prosthetic devices are powered and can be controlled by an amputee flexing muscles on their residual limb. Electric signals are generated by the body when these muscles are flexed and can be measured using specialized electronics, a process called electromyography. Once measured, these myoelectric signals can be used to command a prosthetic device to perform various tasks. For example:

  • Open and close fingers
  • Move the forearm up and down
  • Rotate the wrist

A prosthetist and an occupational therapist will work with a client to ensure that he/she will have the best possible control over their prosthetic device. This process includes determining whether there are appropriate muscle sites available and evaluating the ideal type of control strategy, and finally, training a client to use their new prosthetic device to effectively meet their individual goals. Information about myoelectric signals and their use for controlling prosthetic systems is well explained in a series of monographs that have been produced by the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. The links below will allow you to view the Monographs and provide an excellent introduction to the field of powered prosthetics.

*You will need to install a PDF reader to open these files. If you do not already have one, we recommend Adobe Reader.