Development of a Biomechanical Hand Model for Study of Hand Posture, Strength, and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Research Trainee: Jaewon Choi, PhD Student, Dept. of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: Thomas J. Armstrong, PhD, Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan

This study will develop a biomechanical model of the hand that can be used to predict posture and strength for manual work tasks and also predict tendon loads and displacements. There have been numerous epidemiological studies to relate risk factors to work-related musculoskeletal disorders of upper extremities. These risk factors are closely associated with biomechanical stresses on specific parts of upper extremities. Therefore, understanding and applying biomechanical aspects of risk factors to actual workspace will be helpful in assessing and preventing exposure to the risk factors.

In this study, a model of finger motion will be developed for selected tasks so that it can be used to develop models of muscle shortening and to determine the role of active and passive forces in closing the fist. The resulting model will also be applied to selected jobs to determine tendon forces and movements in selected jobs known to have high and low risk of hand-wrist tendonitis.
Future studies will examine dose-response relationship between tendon loads and chronic tendon injuries of the hand and wrist.

The results of this study will be an important tool for persons design manual tasks and to persons concerned with evaluating and controlling risk of work related musculoskeletal disorders.


Research trainee’s current position:
Jaewon Choi completed his PhD in 2008 and currently works for Ford Motor Company.