Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering

Collaborative Specialization

Musculoskeletal Health Research


Lalone, Emily A.


This thesis examines the development of a six degrees of freedom finger coordinate system that employs electromagnetic tracking to measure finger kinematics. Secondarily, this thesis validated the in vivo finger coordinate system, and is then used to examine range of motion in the fingers in patients with hand osteoarthritis. Lastly, this thesis examines the range of motion of individuals with and without hand arthritis during various activities of daily living, performed with and with joint protection program principles. This study presents a foundation for finger kinematic evaluation and describes a methodology that will be used for larger studies to be conducted to examine finger kinematics in various clinical and functional applications.

Summary for Lay Audience

Finger kinematics is a common measurement in biomechanics to study the motion of objects. Measuring the motion of the finger bones and joints can be complicated because the hand is made up of many bones and is used a wide variety of tasks. In this thesis, a new measurement technique was developed and can be used to measure the motion pathway of the fingers in the hands when flexing and extending the fingers, but also when the hands are being used to perform an activity of daily living. This approach is novel because it can be applied to human subjects performing functional tasks. In order to ensure that the measurement technique is accurate and reliable, several smaller validation studies were also conducted. Following this, the new method was used to examine nine everyday tasks performed by both healthy participants and participants with hand osteoarthritis. Both groups performed the tasks normally and with a clinically used joint protection method. Joint protection programs are recommended to patients who have hand arthritis as they can reduce pain in the joints. However, no quantitative data exists as to their effectiveness, and they have not been updated to reflect current technology. A comparison between the recorded range of motion during these tasks was done.

In this study, the newly developed finger kinematic measurement technique is found to be comparable to finger kinematics measured clinically and is consistent with what is already presented in the literature. In terms of the clinical data, this study showed that the participants with hand osteoarthritis had less total range of motion (flexion/extension) in many of their joints. Participants with hand osteoarthritis also had less range of motion during some tasks in some of their joints. These findings are important as they show that individuals with hand osteoarthritis do perform tasks differently, and that they do have a more limited range of motion in their finger joints. It also shows that while some joint protection recommendations do decrease the range of motion, not all of them do, which may mean that these recommendations need to be updated.

This research has impact on the study of finger motion in people. Having a way to measure finger motion that is applicable to everyday tasks is important and is the foundation for many more potential studies on finger motion and diseases.