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

Research Trainee: Sungchan Bae, MSE, PhD Student, Depts. of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Mechanical 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

The proposed work aims to develop a model that describes human hand motion for simulation of reach and grasp for selected objects and tasks. Specifically, an empirical and a kinematic hand model will be developed to predict hand posture and motion as well as required space and related tendon excursions for varying object shapes, sizes, and locations.

Our preliminary study showed that on the basis of experimental observations, an empirical model can be derived to describe spatial and temporal characteristics of reach and grasp motion of the hand for limited object conditions and that these results can be used to predict finger motion over time. Additionally, the hand posture prediction could be successfully implemented in a computational kinematic model so that a contact algorithm is combined to significantly enhance the final grip posture prediction. Based on the preliminary work, the proposed study will develop an empirical and a kinematic hand model that deliver (1) hand posture prediction of reach and grasp for different object shape, size and location conditions, and (2) corresponding tendon excursion and required space. Also, some case studies will be examined to validate the proposed model.

Prediction of tendon excursion can be used to evaluate the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, while knowledge of required space can be used to improve workspace design for minimization of mechanical interference between workers and work environment.