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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Volume 3, 9 October 2006, Article number 25
DOI: 10.1186/1743-0003-3-25

Error mapping controller: A closed loop neuroprosthesis controlled by artificial neural networks

Pedrocchi, A., Ferrante, S., De Momi, E., Ferrigno, G.

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Abstract

Background: The design of an optimal neuroprostheses controller and its clinical use presents several challenges. First, the physiological system is characterized by highly inter-subjects varying properties and also by non stationary behaviour with time, due to conditioning level and fatigue. Secondly, the easiness to use in routine clinical practice requires experienced operators. Therefore, feedback controllers, avoiding long setting procedures, are required. Methods: The error mapping controller (EMC) here proposed uses artificial neural networks (ANNs) both for the design of an inverse model and of a feedback controller. A neuromuscular model is used to validate the performance of the controllers in simulations. The EMC performance is compared to a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) included in an anti wind-up scheme (called PIDAW) and to a controller with an ANN as inverse model and a PID in the feedback loop (NEUROPID). In addition tests on the EMC robustness in response to variations of the Plant parameters and to mechanical disturbances are carried out. Results: The EMC shows improvements with respect to the other controllers in tracking accuracy, capability to prolong exercise managing fatigue, robustness to parameter variations and resistance to mechanical disturbances. Conclusion: Different from the other controllers, the EMC is capable of balancing between tracking accuracy and mapping of fatigue during the exercise. In this way, it avoids overstressing muscles and allows a considerable prolongation of the movement. The collection of the training sets does not require any particular experimental setting and can be introduced in routine clinical practice.

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