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N Engl J Med. 2013 Sep 26;369(13):1237-42. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1300126.

Robotic leg control with EMG decoding in an amputee with nerve transfers.

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Center for Bionic Medicine, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.

Erratum in

  • N Engl J Med. 2013 Dec 12;369(24):2364.


The clinical application of robotic technology to powered prosthetic knees and ankles is limited by the lack of a robust control strategy. We found that the use of electromyographic (EMG) signals from natively innervated and surgically reinnervated residual thigh muscles in a patient who had undergone knee amputation improved control of a robotic leg prosthesis. EMG signals were decoded with a pattern-recognition algorithm and combined with data from sensors on the prosthesis to interpret the patient's intended movements. This provided robust and intuitive control of ambulation--with seamless transitions between walking on level ground, stairs, and ramps--and of the ability to reposition the leg while the patient was seated.

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