Pattern recognition and regression methods applied to the surface EMG have been used for estimating the user intended motor tasks across multiple degrees of freedom (DoF), for prosthetic control. While these methods are effective in several conditions, they are still characterized by some shortcomings. In this study we propose a methodology that combines these two approaches for mutually alleviating their limitations. This resulted in a control method capable of context-dependent movement estimation that switched automatically between sequential (one DoF at a time) or simultaneous (multiple DoF) prosthesis control, based on an online estimation of signal dimensionality. The proposed method was evaluated in scenarios close to reallife situations, with the control of a physical prosthesis in applied tasks of varying difficulties. Test prostheses were individually manufactured for both able-bodied and transradial amputee subjects. With these prostheses, two amputees performed the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP) test with scores of 58 and 71 points. The 5 able-bodied individuals performed standardized tests, such as the box█ and clothes pin test, reducing the completion times by up to 30%, with respect to using a state-of-the-art pure sequential control algorithm. Apart from facilitating fast simultaneous movements, the proposed control scheme was also more intuitive to use, since human movements are predominated by simultaneous activations across joints. The proposed method thus represents a significant step towards intelligent, intuitive and natural control of upper limb prostheses.
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