A three degrees of freedom switchable impedance myoelectric prosthetic wrist

Patricia Capsi-Morales, Cristina Piazza, Giorgio Grioli, Antonio Bicchi, Manuel G. Catalano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wrist mobility contributes significantly to the execution of upper limb motor tasks. Despite this, current prosthetic wrists are far less advanced than other artificial joints. Typically, prosthetic wrists offer limited degrees of freedom, if any, which forces users to execute compensatory movements during task performance. This addition increases weight and complexity, two unwelcome factors in upper limb prostheses. This article presents the design of a 3-degree-of-freedom friction-lockable prosthetic wrist actuated by a single motor. The design features adaptable behavior when unlocked, promoting a gentle interaction with the environment, and enables users to adjust the hand configuration during pre-grasping phases. The proposed system was tested, combined with a hand prosthesis, and compared to a commercial rotational wrist during the execution of functional movements. Experiments involved nine able-bodied subjects and one prosthesis user. Participants also performed the experiments with their biological wrist (the intact wrist for the prosthesis user) as a control. Results showed that the lockable wrist was used actively 20% more often than the commercial solution without compromising users’ execution time. Interaction tests reveal that compensatory movements are reduced when using the proposed design, resulting in closer resemblance to the control wrist’s performance. The average satisfaction and usability scores were significantly higher for the proposed wrist, indicating its potential acceptance. Finally, the system was validated in a set of activities of daily living performed by the prosthesis user. The study contributes to the development of more intuitive and adaptable prostheses that can improve the quality of life of amputees.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Prosthetic wrist
  • adaptable behavior
  • compensatory movements
  • switchable impedance


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