Evaluation of transradial body-powered prostheses using a robotic simulator

Rafi Ayub, Dario Villarreal, Robert D. Gregg, Fan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Transradial body-powered prostheses are extensively used by upper-limb amputees. This prosthesis requires large muscle forces and great concentration by the patient, often leading to discomfort, muscle fatigue, and skin breakdown, limiting the capacity of the amputee to conduct daily activities. Since body-powered prostheses are commonplace, understanding their optimal operation to mitigate these drawbacks would be clinically meaningful. Objectives: To find the optimal operation of the prosthesis where the activation force is minimized and the grip force is maximized. Study design: Experimental design. Methods: A computer-controlled robotic amputee simulator capable of rapidly testing multiple elbow, shoulder, and scapular combinations of the residual human arm was constructed. It was fitted with a transradial prosthesis and used to systematically test multiple configurations. Results: We found that increased shoulder flexion, scapular abduction, elbow extension, and the placement of the ring harness near the vertebra C7 correlate with higher gripper operation efficiency, defined as the ratio of grip force to cable tension. Conclusion: We conclude that force transmission efficiency is closely related to body posture configuration. These results could help guide practitioners in clinical practice as well as motivate future studies in optimizing the operation of a body-powered prosthesis. Clinical relevance: The results from this study suggest that clinicians ought to place the ring harness inferior and to the sound side of the vertebra prominens in order to maximize grip efficiency. The results will also help clinicians better instruct patients in body posture during prosthesis operation to minimize strain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics 2016.


  • Biomechanics of prosthetic/orthotic devices
  • rehabilitation of prostheses users
  • testing of prosthetic and orthotic components
  • upper-limb prosthetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation


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