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Zong-Ming Li

Mechanical degrees of freedom (DOF) are defined as the minimum number of independent coordinates needed to describe a system’s position. The human musculoskeletal system has many mechanical DOF through which countless movements are accomplished. In the motor control field, one of the aspirations is to understand how the many DOF are organized for movement execution—the so-called DOF problem. Natural movements are characterized by the coordination of the DOF such that few vary independently. The concept of functional degrees of freedom (fDOF) is introduced to describe the very limited DOF of purposeful, coordinated movements. Deterministic (i.e., constraint satisfaction) and statistical (i.e., principal component analysis) approaches are used to determine fDOF. In contrast to DOF as a mechanical descriptor, fDOF emphasizes the mechanisms of human movements and corroborates our search for the solution to the DOF problem.

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Nancy A. Baker, Kaihua Xiu, Krissy Moehling, and Zong-Ming Li

The purpose of this paper is to describe the transverse metacarpal arch (TMA) during a dynamic typing task. Static/relaxed and dynamic typing TMA were collected from 36 right-handed females with musculoskeletal discomfort using a motion capture system. While the angle of right TMA static/relaxed posture (10.1° ± 5.5°) was significantly larger than the left (8.5° ± 5.6°) (P < .05), the right dynamic posture (10.6° ± 4.3°) was not significantly different from the left (10.3° ± 5.5°) (P = .66). Within both these mean scores, there was considerable individual variation, with some subjects demonstrating very flat TMA, and some very curved. The results indicate that TMA angular postures both for static/relaxed and dynamic typing are highly variable both between individuals and between individual hands.

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Sheng Li, Frederic Danion, Mark L. Latash, Zong-Ming Li, and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

One purpose of the present study was to compare indices of finger coordination during force production by the fingers of the right hand and of the left hand. The other purpose was to study the relation between the phenomena of force deficit during multifinger one-hand tasks and of bilateral force deficit during two-hand tasks. Thirteen healthy right-handed subjects performed maximal voluntary force production tasks with different finger combinations involving fingers of one hand or of both hands together. Fingers of the left hand demonstrated lower peak forces, higher indices of finger enslaving, and similar indices of force deficit. Significant bilateral effects during force production by fingers of both hands acting in parallel were seen only during tasks involving different fingers or finger groups in the two hands (asymmetrical tasks). The bilateral deficit effects were more pronounced in the hand whose fingers generated higher forces. These findings suggest a generalization of an earlier introduced principle of minimization of secondary moments. They also may be interpreted as suggesting that bilateral force deficit is task-specific and may reflect certain optimization principles.

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Zong-Ming Li, Shouchen Dun, Daniel A. Harkness, and Teresa L. Brininger

The purpose of the current study was to examine motion enslaving characteristics of multiple fingers during isolated flexion of the distal interphalangeal joints. Because the distal interphalangeal joints are flexed by multiple tendons of the single flexor digitorum profundus, the current experimental design provided a unique advantage to understand inter-finger enslaving effects due to the flexor digitorum profundus. Eight subjects were instructed to flex the distal inter-phalangeal joint of each individual finger from the fully extended position to the fully flexed position as quickly as possible. Maximal angular displacements, velocities, or accelerations of individual fingers were used to calculate the enslaving effects. An independence index, defined as the ratio of the maximal displacement of a master finger to the sum of the maximal displacements of the master and slave fingers, was used to quantify relative independence of each finger. The angular displacements of the index, middle, ring, and little fingers were 68.6° (±7.7), 68.1° (±10.1), 68.1° (±9.7), and 74.7° (±13.3), respectively. The motion of a master finger was invariably accompanied by motion of 1 or 2 slave fingers. Angular displacements of master and slave fingers increased to maximum values with time monotonically. Velocity curves demonstrated bell-shaped profile, and the acceleration curves were sinusoidal. Enslaving effects were generated mainly on the neighboring fingers. The amount of enslaving on the middle and ring fingers exceeded more than 60% of their own maximum angular displacements when a single adjacent finger moved. The index finger had the highest level of independence as indicated by the lowest enslaving effects on other fingers or by other fingers. The independence indices of the index, middle, ring, and little fingers were 0.812 (±0.070), 0.530 (±0.051), 0.479 (±0.099), and 0.606 (±0.148), respectively. In all tasks, motion of slave fingers always lagged with respect to the master finger. Time delays, on average, ranged from 7.8 (±5.0) to 35.9 (±22.1) ms. Our results suggest that there exist relatively large enslaving effects among the compartments of the flexor digitorum profundus, and functional independence of fingers in daily activities is likely enhanced through synergistic activities of multiple muscles, including flexors and extensors.