Distal upper limb kinematics during functional everyday tasks

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Early online date10 Jan 2018
StatePublished - Mar 2018


Quantitative characterisation of upper limb motion allows the evaluation of the effect of pathology on functional task performance, potentially directing rehabilitation strategies. Movement patterns of the distal upper limb in healthy adults during functional tasks have not been extensively characterised. During five loaded functional tasks (drinking from a glass, pouring from a kettle, turning a handle, lifting a bag to a shelf, turning a key) the movement patterns were characterised using three-dimensional motion analysis with a minimal marker set in 16 healthy adults (10M,6F, 27 (IQR:25-43)years). Joint angles reported include flexion/extension at the elbow and wrist, forearm supination/pronation and digits 2-5 metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint flexion/extension. Additionally for the thumb the angle between the metacarpal of the thumb and the 2nd digit (Thumb base), the thumb MCP (Thumb MCP) and interphalangeal (Thumb IP) joint angles are presented. Durations of activities performed at self-selected comfortable speeds (3.36 (IQR:3.07,3.66)s turning a key to 6.20 (IQR:5.44,6.38)s drinking from a glass) are reported. The maximum joint angles used (median of participants’ maxima) were 141° of elbow flexion, 116° forearm supination, 36° wrist extension, 56° Thumb base, 14° Thumb MCP flexion, 18° Thumb IP flexion, 85° MCP2-5 flexion. The tasks of drinking from a glass, lifting a bag to a shelf and turning a key appeared to have the least variation in performance, suggesting that these activities are better suited to be selected as standardized tasks for assessing the impact of pathology on movement than pouring from a kettle and turning a handle.


  • upper limb kinematics; metacarpophalangeal joint kinematics; everyday activities; range of motion; thumb; functional tasks