Phased multi-joint movement of the index finger during a full flexion cycle

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Flexion of the index finger is a fairly complex process requiring the coordination of different joints. This study is the first attempt to investigate how the angular velocity profile of the three right index joints (DIP, PIP, and MCP) varies with respect to time during the course of flexion. Ten right-handed subjects (healthy college students between 21 and 23 years old) were recruited to participate in the experiment. Each of these human subjects was instructed to perform a flexion task with his/her right hand. Five miniaturized (5-mm diameter) reflective markers were applied to each human subject: three placed at the DIP, PIP, and MCP joints of the index finger on the side close to thumb, and the rest at the predetermined landmarks on dorsum of thumb. A high-speed camera was used to record the motion of the index finger during a paced flexion, and the instantaneous angular velocity of each joint was determined by relating the marker displacement to the frame frequency (~5 ms between two consecutive frames). Opposite to the general belief that the speed is constant throughout a flexion cycle, to our best knowledge, this study, for the first time, has revealed that the speed of multi-joint movement actually varies with time. It has been identified that during one full flexion cycle, the angular velocity of the three joints of interest undergoes five distinguishable phases, referred as phases P1 (slow), P2 (fast), P3 (slow), P4 (fast), and P5 (slow), respectively. It has also been observed that duration of each of phases P1, P2, P4, or P5 accounts for approximately 10–15% of the whole flexion cycle, while P3 lasts for nearly half a cycle. Furthermore, although the flexions of DIP, PIP, and MCP joints cycle through the same five phases, the starts of their respective phases tend to vary. In P2 and P5, flexion of MCP takes place considerably later than those of PIP and DIP, whereas DIP flexes earlier than PIP in P2. The angular velocity of each joint reaches its peaks in P2 and P4; the peak velocity of DIP occurs earlier than that of PIP or MCP in P2, whereas peak of MCP is reached later than that of PIP. Moreover, the three joints of index finger flex with different angular velocities in each of the five phases: PIP moves significantly faster than MCP in P2, whereas DIP moves faster than MCP in P4. The results from our study indicate that the multi-joint motion of index finger is an uneven course, i.e. different joints flex with different angular velocities during the flexion. The temporal features of the velocity due to a single joint or multi-joint motion provide useful information to further clarify the dexterity of finger movement.


Biomechanics and Biotransport | Biomedical | Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Electrical and Computer Engineering | Engineering


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