Assessing finger joint biomechanics by applying equal force to flexor tendons In vitro using a novel simultaneous approach

Yang, Tai-Hua and Lu, Szu-Ching and Lin, Wei-Jr and Zhao, Kristin and Zhao, Chunfeng and An, Kai-Nan and Jou, I-Ming and Lee, Pei-Yuan and Kuo, Li-Chieh and Su, Fong-Chin (2016) Assessing finger joint biomechanics by applying equal force to flexor tendons In vitro using a novel simultaneous approach. PLOS One, 11 (8). e0160301. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: The flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) and flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) are critical for finger flexion. Although research has recently focused on these tendons' coactivity, their contributions in different tasks remain unclear. This study created a novel simultaneous approach to investigate the coactivity between the tendons and to clarify their contributions in different tasks. METHODS: Ten human cadaveric hands were mounted on our custom frame with the FDS and FDP of the third finger looped through a mechanical pulley connected to a force transducer. Joint range of motion, tendon excursion and loading force were recorded during individual joint motion and free joint movement from rest to maximal flexion. Each flexor tendon's moment arm was then calculated. RESULTS: In individual motions, we found that the FDP contributed more than the FDS in proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint motion, with an overall slope of 1.34 and all FDP-to-FDS excursion (P/S) ratios greater than 1.0 with force increase. However, the FDP contributed less than the FDS in metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint motion, with an overall slope of 0.95 and P/S ratios smaller than 1.0 throughout the whole motion except between 1.9% and 13.1% force. In free joint movement, the FDP played a greater role than the FDS, with an overall ratio of 1.37 and all P/S ratios greater than 1.0. CONCLUSIONS: The new findings include differences in finger performance and excursion amounts between the FDS and FDP throughout flexion. Such findings may provide the basis for new hand models and treatments.