Development of a Biomechanical Hand Model to Predict Multi-Segmental Grip Forces

Faculty Researcher: Na Jin Seo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

The current lack of ability to predict grip strength for various shapes and sizes of work objects significantly hampers the ability to develop optimal designs for work objects and handles for maximal hand strength and thus, reduced hand injuries. The proposed research has two aims. The first aim is to develop and validate a novel biomechanical hand model that can predict grip strength for each phalanx for various grip postures (simulating grasping of objects in various shapes and sizes). The second aim is to develop a user-friendly computer program for this biomechanical hand model that ergonomists and industrial designers can easily use to improve ergonomics of work objects, workstations, and consumer products for their applications.

Our development of the novel model is expected to enhance the fundamental biomechanical knowledge about how a person generates grip force. The user-friendly software that predicts workers’ grip strength for gripping objects of various shapes and sizes is expected to enhance the ability of ergonomists to design optimal work objects or handles. Enhancement of biomechanical knowledge, together with development of biomechanics-based tools to evaluate specific handle designs, are expected to contribute to effectively reducing overexertion and hand injury, and thus increasing safety at workplace.

Research trainee’s current position:
Na Jin Seo completed her PhD in 2007 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina.