Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 February 2013
The combined motion of the human thumb, index and middle fingers while rotating a small object across the extended, intermediate and flexed planes with respect to the fingers was analyzed. Auto reflective markers were attached on the fingers to track their motion across three postures and planes via a 3D motion capture system. Central, right and left rotation postures were considered in each plane for investigation and the rotation experiments were performed with 30 healthy subjects. The obtained data were used to compute the finger joint angles. Based on the three criteria of (i) manipulability measure, (ii) major axis direction angle of the manipulability ellipsoid and (iii) ratio of the minor over major axis lengths, the collective behavior of the fingers was studied. It has been found after analysis that the thumb and middle finger were active, while the index finger operated passively when manipulating small objects in cooperative rotational motion across the three planes. Activeness refers to the independence of a digit in controlling the motion of an object whereas passiveness denotes its dependence on other digits. An active finger governs the motion of an object whereas a passive finger simply supports it. The results of this investigation are of great importance in planning treatment for rehabilitation and for designing controllers for robotic therapists, finger exoskeletons and prostheses.
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