Investigation of upper limb prosthesis functionality using quantitative design tools

Chua, Chung Han (2022) Investigation of upper limb prosthesis functionality using quantitative design tools. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Upper limb prostheses offer those with limb loss a solution to restore some of their lost functionality by allowing them to participate in bilateral tasks, especially those required for daily living. Whilst there is a wide range of upper limb prostheses available, there remain high device rejection rates. Low functionality and discomfort are major factors in prosthesis rejection, which had been identified as challenges more than 60 years ago. These issues have not been effectively addressed due the lack of design tools for engineers and clinicians. Upper limb prostheses have seen greater technological advances than the methods to evaluate them effectively, which has resulted in over-engineered designs which do not meet the needs of their user.

In this thesis , I aim to improve future upper limb prostheses through the development of three design tools. These design tools seek to quantify the functionality of prosthetic devices using motion capture analysis, virtual environments, and joint optimisation. By developing these tools, there is greater opportunity to optimise prostheses earlier in the design cycle which can result in improved functionality. It is anticipated that improvements in functionality will increase user satisfaction and therefore reduce device rejection rates

Motion capture analysis was used to study the compensatory movements that arise from operating an upper limb prosthesis. Using a motion capture suit, the motor strategy of a participant was compared between using their biological hand and using a prosthesis through the use of an able-bodied adaptor. It was found that the shoulder and trunk had to make the most compensatory movements to complete several grasping tasks due to the lack of degrees of freedom at the distal end of the prosthesis. Without forearm supination/pronation and wrist extension/flexion, the participant had to approach the grasping tasks from a different angle, sometimes having to lean backwards and abduct their upper arm. The methodology of utilising a motion capture suit as a design tool to quantitatively assess the compensatory movements caused by a prosthetic device was successfully demonstrated.

Virtual environments, in conjunction with quantitative grasp quality metrics, can be used to assess the performance of the upper limb prosthesis extremity alone, uninfluenced by user bias. A dynamic virtual environment is presented to simulate several grasping tasks with five upper limb prosthetic devices. Contact information from these grasping tasks are used to calculate the quality of the grasp and provide an overall grasping functionality score. From the simulation results, it was found that more degrees of freedom do not necessary equate to better grasping performance. The positions of force vectors during grasp formation are vital and they must be well- balanced in order to result in stable grasps. Simulated grasping and quantitative analysis in a virtual environment has been demonstrated, which can be used to better plan grasping paths and therefore improve the grasping functionality of upper limb prosthesis designs.

Prosthesis users desire their devices to have a low mass, have a low cost, and have high functionality. However, these are conflicting design objectives and decisions must be made to which design considerations to prioritise. A multi-objective model was used to balance these three objectives and select the most suitable components that make up a prosthesis. A modularity scheme was used to divide an upper limb prosthesis into three categories: socket, forearm, and terminal device. In each category, several components were considered which can either be manufactured by conventional engineering or additive manufacturing. Each component would provide a unique value determined by a several quantitative utility functions. Based on satisfaction studies in the literature, the multi-objective optimisation model found that a Split Hook terminal device with an additively manufactured socket and forearm was the optimal design as it provided a low mass and excellent grasping functionality. This model has been demonstrated to work with different user requirements to intelligently select the most appropriate upper limb components within the modularity scheme.

Overall, methods were developed which covered aspects of prosthesis design from clinical testing of prosthetic devices, functionality assessments of Computer Aided Design models, and intelligent selection of prosthesis components for individual requirements. It is hoped that these design tools may enable better communication between engineers and clinicians to ensure that users receive devices that are to their satisfaction.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ashcroft, Ian
Goodridge, Ruth
Benford, Steve
Keywords: Upper Limb Prosthesis, Grasp Quality, Simulation
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R855 Medical technology. Biomedical engineering. Electronics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
Item ID: 67269
Depositing User: Chua, Chung
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 04:40

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