Prosthetic embodiment: Review and perspective on definitions, measures,
and experimental paradigms
AbstractThe term embodiment has become omnipresent within prosthetics research
and is often used as a metric for the progress made in technological
prosthetic development, as well as a hallmark for user acceptance.
However, despite frequent use of the term, the concept of prosthetic
embodiment is often left undefined or used interchangeably with other
distinct notions such as ownership. This terminological ambiguity
complicates the comparison of studies using embodiment as a metric of
success, which in turn hinders the advancement of prosthetics research.
In an attempt to resolve these terminological ambiguities, we reviewed
the used definitions of embodiment in the prosthetics literature, found
common denominators, and developed a pragmatic perspective. We found
that embodiment is often conceptualized in either of two frameworks
based on body representations or phenomenology. We concluded that
treating prosthetic embodiment as the combination of ownership and
agency allows for measurement and thus improvement. Together with the
measures and experiments to study ownership and agency suggested herein,
we provide a pragmatic definition of prosthetic embodiment that allows
for outcome comparisons between studies and creates a common reference
for further discussions within prosthetics research.