Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering

Collaborative Specialization

Musculoskeletal Health Research


Lalone, Emily A.

2nd Supervisor

Ferreira, Louis M.



Hand-Osteoarthritis (H-OA) leads to pain, loss of grip strength, and decreased hand function. Current treatment for H-OA involves joint protection programs (JPP) which seek to reduce joint loading during activity. The use of wearable technology to measure hand forces during activity has the potential to determine the effectiveness of JPP. The objective of this thesis was to develop and validate a method of directly measuring finger forces during the performance of activities of daily living, and then use that system to measure the envelope of hand forces during activity in healthy individuals and in patients with H-OA. A commercially-available capacitive sensor system was validated for use in this application and found an envelope of applied forces consistent with previous literature. Using the measurement system and protocols presented in this thesis, the effectiveness of JPP at reducing hand forces can, for the first time, be objectively quantified.

Summary for Lay Audience

Joint protection programs (JPP) help patients with hand arthritis reduce the forces in their hands to reduce pain and improve function. These programs focus on training people to use alternate movements, devices, and strategies that can reduce forces on their hands in daily tasks. While these programs have been designed using basic principles, we know very little about the actual forces applied by the hands during home and work tasks. Without this knowledge, we do not know how to best reduce joint loads and minimize pain. This thesis explores the use of small sensors which slide over the fingers to measure these finger forces during the performance of activities. Both healthy people and those with hand arthritis were recruited to participate in this study and the range of forces applied by the fingers during several activities was measured with these sensors. This represents the first step in evaluating current joint protection programs to determine if they result in lower forces applied by the fingers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.