A protocol for analysing three-dimensional metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint motion in vivo using two markers on the proximal phalanx is described. The analysis uses an assumption that the rotation of the phalanx about its own long axis is zero. In an experimental study 24 volunteers had surface markers applied to the dorsal surfaces of their hands and index and long finger proximal phalanges, with three-dimensional marker positions recorded in two hand and finger postures in an incomplete box design using a test-retest protocol. Kinematic parameters from the optoelectronic system were compared with those obtained from three-dimensional reconstruction of bone landmarks and of the marker positions identified on stereoradiographs. Pronation/supination angles obtained from bone landmarks showed high test-retest variability, reflecting the difficulty in obtaining reliable pronation/supination data in small bones without the use of implanted markers. Changes in MCP joint extension and deviation angles determined using two surface markers agree with those obtained from bone landmarks. The results indicate a reproducible protocol for tracking MCP joint motion using only two phalangeal markers, suggesting that the ‘no-rotation assumption’ can be applied without affecting measures of extension and deviation motion in the normal joint.

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Keywords Joint alignment, Joint motion, Metacarpophalangeal, Motion analysis, Optical methods, Surface markers
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1243/0954411011535993
Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Speirs, A, Small, C.F. (C. F.), Bryant, J.T. (J. T.), Pichora, D.R. (D. R.), & Zee, B.Y. (B. Y.). (2001). Three-dimensional metacarpophalangeal joint kinematics using two markers on the phalanx. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 215(4), 415–419. doi:10.1243/0954411011535993