J Biomech. 2015 Dec 16;48(16):4246-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.10.027. Epub 2015 Oct 28.
Many activities of daily living involve precision grasping and bimanual manipulation, such as putting toothpaste on a toothbrush or feeding oneself. However, children afflicted by stroke, cerebral palsy, or traumatic brain injury may have lost or never had the ability to actively and accurately control the thumb. To translate insights from adult rehabilitation robotics to innovative therapies for hand rehabilitation in pediatric care, specifically for thumb deformities, an understanding of the torque needed to abduct the thumb to assist grasping tasks is required. Participants (n=16, 10 female, 13.2±3.1 years) had an upper extremity evaluation and measures were made of their passive range of motion, anthropometrics, and torques to abduct the thumb for both their affected and non-affected sides. Torque measures were made using a custom wrist orthosis that was adjusted for each participant. The torque to achieve maximum abduction was 1.47±0.61inlb for the non-affected side and 1.51±0.68inlb for the affected side, with a maximum recorded value of 4.87inlb. The overall maximum applied torque was observed during adduction and was 5.10inlb. We saw variation in the applied torque, which could have been due to the applied torques by the Occupational Therapist or the participant actively assisting or resisting the motion rather than remaining passive. We expect similar muscle and participant variation to exist with an assistive device. Thus, the data presented here can be used to inform the specifications for the development of an assistive thumb orthosis for children with “thumb-in-palm” deformity.