Motor control theories improve biomechanical model of the hand for finger pressing tasks

J Biomech. 2012 Apr 30;45(7):1246-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.01.038. Epub 2012 Feb 20.


Background: Biomechanical models are a useful tool to estimate tendon tensions. Unfortunately, in previous fingers' models, each finger acts independently from the others. This is contradictory with hand motor control theories which show that fingers are functionally linked in order to balance the wrist/forearm joint with minimal tendon tensions. (i.e. principle of minimization of the secondary moments). We propose to adapt a hand biomechanical model according to this principle by including the wrist joint. We will determine whether the finger tendon tensions changed with the wrist joint added to the model.

Methods: Two models have been tested: one considering fingers independently (model A) and one with the fingers mechanically linked by the inclusion of the wrist balance (model B). A single set of data, additional results from the literature and in-vivo values have been used to compare the results.

Results: Model A corroborates previous results in the literature. Contrast results were obtained with model B, especially for the Ring and Little fingers. Different tendon tensions were obtained, particularly, in finger extensor muscles critical to balance the wrist.

Discussion: We discuss the biomechanical results in accordance with the hand/finger motor control theories. It appears that the wrist joint balance is critical for finger tendon tension estimation. When including the wrist joint into finger models, the tendon tension estimations agree well with the minimization of secondary moments and the force deficit.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Fingers / anatomy & histology
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Hand / anatomy & histology
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological*
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Tendons / physiology
  • Wrist Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Wrist Joint / physiology