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Brian Horsak and Mario Heller

The aim of this paper was to examine finger and bow string movements during archery by investigating a top Austrian athlete (FITA score = 1233) under laboratory conditions. Maximum lateral bow string deflection and angular displacements for index, third, and ring fingers between the full draw position and the end of the release were quantified using a motion tracking system. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were used to determine whether bow string deflection and finger movements are predictive for scoring. Joint ranges of motion during the shot itself were large in the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints, and much smaller in the metacarpophalangeal joints. Contrary to our expectations, greater deflection leads to higher scores (R 2 = .18, p < .001) and the distal interphalangeal joint of the third finger weakly predicts the deflection (R 2 = .11, p < .014). More variability in the joint angles of the third finger was found in bad shots than in good shots. Findings in this study let presume that maximum lateral bow string deflection does not adversely affect the archer’s performance.

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Maria Sundqvist, Jakob Åsberg Johnels, Jonas Lindh, Katja Laakso and Lena Hartelius

In this study we systematically compared syllable repetition and finger tapping in healthy adults, and explored possible impacts of tempi, metronome, musical experience, and age on motor timing ability. One hundred healthy adults used finger-tapping and syllable repetition to perform an isochronous pulse in three different tempi, with and without a metronome. Results showed that the motor timing was more accurate with finger tapping than with syllable repetition in the slowest tempo, and the motor timing ability was better with the metronome than without. Persons with musical experience showed better motor timing accuracy than persons without such experience, and the timing asynchrony increased with increasing age. The slowest tempo 90 bpm posed extra challenges to the participants. We speculate that this pattern reflects the fact that the slow tempo lies outside the 3–8 Hz syllable rate of natural speech, which in turn has been linked to theta-based oscillations in the brain.

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Erik Domellöf, Brian Hopkins, Brian Francis and Louise Rönnqvist

Kinematic studies to date have not considered in what ways surface markers may affect the performance of the analyzed motion. This neglect is particularly apparent in studies of prehensile movements involving surface markers attached to the fingers. In order to specify any such effects, a range of kinematic parameters derived from simple reach-to-grasp movements, both with and without finger markers, by 3-year-old children and adults were analyzed. Finger markers affected both the spatial and temporal nature of the children’s reaching performance as revealed by a more temporally segmented reaching path, an age-atypically straighter reaching path, and an increased time to establish a pincer grip. The reaching movements made by the adults were unaffected in terms of the kinematic parameters employed.

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Isabelle Schöffl, Thomas Baier and Volker Schöffl

After a pulley rupture, most climbers regain the full function of their previously uninjured fingers. However, in some cases of pulley rupture, a persistent inflammation of the tendon sheath is observed. In this study, 16 cadaver fingers were loaded until pulley rupture and then studied for the rupturing mechanism. In addition, two patients with this pathology were investigated using ultrasound and MRI, and received surgery. In 13 fingers, a rupture of one or several pulleys occurred and almost always at the medial or lateral insertion. In one finger, a capsizing of the pulley underneath the intact tendon sheath was observed, leading to an avulsion between tendon and tendon sheath. A similar pathology was observed in the ultrasound imaging, in MRI, and during surgery in two patients with prolonged recovery after minor pulley rupture. In cases of prolonged tenosynovitis after minor pulley rupture, a capsizing of the pulley stump is probably the cause for constant friction leading to inflammation. In those cases, a surgical removal of the remaining pulley stump and sometimes a pulley repair may be necessary.

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Laurent Vigouroux, Mathieu Domalain and Eric Berton

The objective of this study was to identify the impact of modifying the object width on muscle and joint forces while gripping objects. The experimental protocol consisted to maintain horizontally five objects of different widths (3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, and 7.5 cm) with a thumb–index finger grip. Subjects were required to grasp spontaneously the object without any instruction regarding the grip force (GF) to apply. A biomechanical model of thumb–index finger pinch was developed to estimate muscle and joint forces. This model included electromyography, fingertip force, and kinematics data as inputs. The finger joint postures and the GF varied across the object widths. The estimated muscle forces also varied significantly according to the object width. Interestingly, we observed that the muscle force/GF ratios of major flexor muscles remain particularly stable with respect to the width whereas other muscle ratios differed largely. This may argue for a control strategy in which the actions of flexors were preserved in spite of change in joint postures. The estimated joint forces tended to increase with object width and increased in the distal–proximal sense. Overall, these results are of importance for the ergonomic design of handheld objects and for clinical applications.

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Clayton L. Van Doren

The purpose of this study was to determine whether direct measurements of grasp stiffness agreed with stiffness inferred from the slopes of isovolitional force-span characteristics derived from previous grasp-effort matching data. Grasp stiffness for three-finger pinch was measured as a function of initial force and finger span using step displacements applied in a do-not-intervene paradigm. Subjects pinched a free-floating, motorized manipulandum in each hand and squeezed both with equal effort; one of the hands was perturbed at random. Stiffness was calculated from the initial and final steady-state values of force and span. The effects of step amplitude, rise-time, and initial load stiffness were investigated; grasp stiffness decreased significantly for larger steps, increased slightly for longer rise-times, and was unaffected by load stiffness. Grasp stiffness then was measured as a function of initial force and span using a single set of step parameters. Stiffness increased significantly in proportion to force but was changed only slightly by span. It was concluded that the perturbation and effort-matching measures of stiffness are not equivalent and represent different components of motor behavior.

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Xun Niu, Alexander V. Terekhov, Mark L. Latash and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

The goal of the research is to reconstruct the unknown cost (objective) function(s) presumably used by the neural controller for sharing the total force among individual fingers in multifinger prehension. The cost function was determined from experimental data by applying the recently developed Analytical Inverse Optimization (ANIO) method (Terekhov et al. 2010). The core of the ANIO method is the Theorem of Uniqueness that specifies conditions for unique (with some restrictions) estimation of the objective functions. In the experiment, subjects (n = 8) grasped an instrumented handle and maintained it at rest in the air with various external torques, loads, and target grasping forces applied to the object. The experimental data recorded from 80 trials showed a tendency to lie on a 2-dimensional hyperplane in the 4-dimensional finger-force space. Because the constraints in each trial were different, such a propensity is a manifestation of a neural mechanism (not the task mechanics). In agreement with the Lagrange principle for the inverse optimization, the plane of experimental observations was close to the plane resulting from the direct optimization. The latter plane was determined using the ANIO method. The unknown cost function was reconstructed successfully for each performer, as well as for the group data. The cost functions were found to be quadratic with nonzero linear terms. The cost functions obtained with the ANIO method yielded more accurate results than other optimization methods. The ANIO method has an evident potential for addressing the problem of optimization in motor control.

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James R. Cook, Nancy A. Baker, Rakié Cham, Erin Hale and Mark S. Redfern

A marker-based kinematic hand model to quantify finger postures was developed and compared to manual goniometric measurements. The model was implemented with data collected from static postures of five subjects. The metacarpal phalangeal (MCP) and proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints were positioned in flexion of approximately 30, 60, and 90 degrees for 5 subjects. Wrist flexion/extension and ulnar/radial deviations were also examined. The model-based angles for the MCP and PIP joints were not statistically equivalent to the goniometric measurements, with differences of −1.8 degrees and +3.5 degrees, respectively. Differences between the two measurement methods for the MCP and PIP were found to be a function of the posture (i.e., 150, 120, or 90 degree blocks) used. Wrist measurements differed by −4.0 degrees for ulnar/radial deviation and +5.2 degrees for flexion/extension. Much of the difference between the model and goniometric measurements is believed due to inaccuracies in the goniometric measurements. The proposed model is useful for future investigations of finger-intensive activities by supplying accurate and unbiased measures of joint angles.

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Isabelle Schöffl, Frank Einwag, Wolf Strecker, Friedrich Hennig and Volker Schöffl

Flexor tendon pulley ruptures are the most common injury in rock climbers. Therapeutic standards usually include a prolonged use of taping applied as a replacement for the lost pulley in a circular fashion at the base of the proximal phalanx. Our biomechanical considerations, however, suggest a new taping method, the H-tape. The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether this new taping method can effectively change the course of the flexor tendon and therefore reduce the tendon–bone distance. In order to compare the effects of different taping methods described in the literature with the newly developed taping method, we performed standardized ultrasound examinations of 8 subjects with singular A2 pulley rupture and multiple pulley ruptures of A2 and A3 pulleys and determined the respective tendon–bone distance for the different taping methods, versus without tape at a preset position on the proximal phalanx. In a second approach, we evaluated the effect of the new taping method on the strength of the injured finger using a force platform on 12 subjects with different pulley ruptures with injuries older than 1 year. The new taping method decreased the tendon–bone distance in the injured finger significantly by 16%, whereas the other taping methods did not. The strength development was significantly better with the new tape for the crimp grip position (+13%), but there was no significant improvement for the hanging position. We recommend taping with the newly presented taping technique after pulley rupture.

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Nobuo Takeshima, William F. Brechue, Setsuko Ueya and Kiyoji Tanaka

This study attempted to determine the accuracy of measuring heart rate by radial artery palpation in elderly individuals. Elderly (ELD; n = 26) and young (Y; n = 21) individuals completed 3 intensity levels of exercise on a treadmill, each carried out on a separate day. Participants determined their heart rate by palpating the radial artery (PR) after exercise. In ELD, there were significant differences between PR and electrocardiogram (ECG; p = .007). Heart-rate errors at each intensity of exercise were 7.2 ± 12.5, 6.6 ± 15.7, and 10.1 ± 16.5 beats/min. There were no differences in PR and ECG in Y. Fingertip sensitivity was significantly lower in ELD than in Y. A significant, negative correlation existed (r = -.56, n = 26) between heart-rate error and fingertip sensitivity in ELD. These data suggest that self-conducted PR by elderly individuals fails to accurately estimate heart rate. This appears to result from lessened vibrotactile sensitivity in the fingers.