Co-adaptive control of bionic limbs via unsupervised adaptation of muscle synergies

Dennis Yeung, Irene Mendez Guerra, Ian Barner-Rasmussen, Emilia Siponen, Dario Farina, Ivan Vujaklija

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: In this work, we present a myoelectric interface that extracts natural motor synergies from multi-muscle signals and adapts in real-time with new user inputs. With this unsupervised adaptive myocontrol (UAM) system, optimal synergies for control are continuously co-adapted with changes in user motor control, or as a function of perturbed conditions via online non-negative matrix factorization guided by physiologically informed sparseness constraints in lieu of explicit data labelling. Methods: UAM was tested in a set of virtual target reaching tasks completed by able-bodied and amputee subjects. Tests were conducted under normative and electrode perturbed conditions to gauge control robustness with comparisons to non-adaptive and supervised adaptive myocontrol schemes. Furthermore, UAM was used to interface an amputee with a multi-functional powered hand prosthesis during standardized Clothespin Relocation Tests, also conducted in normative and perturbed conditions. Results: In virtual tests, UAM effectively mitigated performance degradation caused by electrode displacement, affording greater resilience over an existing supervised adaptive system for amputee subjects. Induced electrode shifts also had negligible effect on the real world control performance of UAM with consistent completion times (23.91±1.33 s) achieved across Clothespin Relocation Tests in the normative and electrode perturbed conditions. Conclusion: UAM affords comparable robustness improvements to existing supervised adaptive myocontrol interfaces whilst providing additional practical advantages for clinical deployment. Significance: The proposed system uniquely incorporates neuromuscular control principles with unsupervised online learning methods and presents a working example of a freely co-adaptive bionic interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2581-2592
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number8
Early online dateFeb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adaptation models
  • Adaptive myoelectric control
  • Adaptive systems
  • Data models
  • Electrodes
  • electromyography
  • Muscles
  • non-negative matrix factorization
  • powered prostheses
  • Prosthetics
  • Task analysis
  • unsupervised learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Co-adaptive control of bionic limbs via unsupervised adaptation of muscle synergies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this