Comparison of tendon tensions estimated from two biomechanical models of the thumb

  • Vigouroux Laurent
  • Domalain Mathieu
  • Berton Eric


Despite the paramount function of the thumb in daily life, thumb biomechanical models have been little developed and studied. Moreover, only two studies provided quantitative anthropometric data of tendon moment arms. To investigate thumb tendon tensions, biomechanicians and clinicians have to know the performances and the limits of these two data sets. The aim of this study was thus to compare the results of these two models and evaluate their performances in regard to prior electromyographic measurements (EMG). Thumb posture was recorded during the classical key pinch and pulp pinch grips. Various fingertip forces applied at the distal segment were simulated in a range including extension, adduction, flexion, abduction. input data of thumb postures and fingertip forces were used to compute tendon tensions with both models. Tendon tensions obtained using these two models were then compared and correlated to EMG measurements provided in the literature. The results showed that both models predicted relevant muscle coordination for five of the nine muscles modelled. Opponent and abductor longus muscle coordinations were badly estimated by both models. Each model was sensible to kinematic errors but not in the same proportion. This study pointed out the advantages/limits of the two models to use them more appropriately for clinical and/or research purposes. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.