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Frontiers Media S.A.

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Frontiers in Neuroscience

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A hallmark of human locomotion is that it continuously adapts to changes in the environment and predictively adjusts to changes in the terrain, both of which are major challenges to lower limb amputees due to the limitations in prostheses and control algorithms. Here, the ability of a single-network nonlinear autoregressive model to continuously predict future ankle kinematics and kinetics simultaneously across ambulation conditions using lower limb surface electromyography (EMG) signals was examined. Ankle plantarflexor and dorsiflexor EMG from ten healthy young adults were mapped to normal ranges of ankle angle and ankle moment during level overground walking, stair ascent, and stair descent, including transitions between terrains (i.e., transitions to/from staircase). Prediction performance was characterized as a function of the time between current EMG/angle/moment inputs and future angle/moment model predictions (prediction interval), the number of past EMG/angle/moment input values over time (sampling window), and the number of units in the network hidden layer that minimized error between experimentally measured values (targets) and model predictions of ankle angle and moment. Ankle angle and moment predictions were robust across ambulation conditions with root mean squared errors less than 1° and 0.04 Nm/kg, respectively, and cross-correlations (R2) greater than 0.99 for prediction intervals of 58 ms. Model predictions at critical points of trip-related fall risk fell within the variability of the ankle angle and moment targets (Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted p > 0.065). EMG contribution to ankle angle and moment predictions occurred consistently across ambulation conditions and model outputs. EMG signals had the greatest impact on noncyclic regions of gait such as double limb support, transitions between terrains, and around plantarflexion and moment peaks. The use of natural muscle activation patterns to continuously predict variations in normal gait and the model’s predictive capabilities to counteract electromechanical inherent delays suggest that this approach could provide robust and intuitive user-driven real-time control of a wide variety of lower limb robotic devices, including active powered ankle-foot prostheses.


Published version. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol. 15 (August 18, 2021): 709422. DOI. This article is © 2021 Zabre-Gonzalez, Riem, Voglewede, Silver-Thorn, Koehler-McNicholas and Beardsley published by Frontiers Media S.A. Used with permission. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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