The human finger contains tendon/ligament mechanisms essential for proper control. One mechanism couples the movements of the interphalangeal joints when the (unloaded) finger is flexed with active deep flexor. This study's aim was to accurately determine in a large finger sample the kinematics and variability of the coupled interphalangeal joint motions, for potential clinical and finger model validation applications. The data could also be applied to humanoid robotic hands. Sixty-eight fingers were measured in seventeen hands in nine subjects. Fingers exhibited great joint mobility variability, with passive proximal interphalangeal hyperextension ranging from zero to almost fifty degrees. Increased measurement accuracy was obtained by using marker frames to amplify finger segment motions. Gravitational forces on the marker frames were not found to invalidate measurements. The recorded interphalangeal joint trajectories were highly consistent, demonstrating the underlying coupling mechanism. The increased accuracy and large sample size allowed for evaluation of detailed trajectory variability, systematic differences between flexion and extension trajectories, and three trigger types, distinct from flexor tendon triggers, involving initial flexion deficits in either proximal or distal interphalangeal joint. The experimental methods, data and analysis should advance insight into normal and pathological finger biomechanics (e.g., swanneck deformities), and could help improve clinical differential diagnostics of trigger finger causes. The marker frame measuring method may be useful to quantify interphalangeal joints trajectories in surgical/rehabilitative outcome studies. The data as a whole provide the most comprehensive collection of interphalangeal joint trajectories for clinical reference and model validation known to us to date.

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Journal of Biomechanics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Leijnse, J., Quesada, P. M., & Spoor, C. (2010). Kinematic evaluation of the finger's interphalangeal joints coupling mechanism-variability, flexion-extension differences, triggers, locking swanneck deformities, anthropometric correlations. Journal of Biomechanics, 43(12), 2381–2393. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.04.021