Three-dimensional functional motion analysis of the arthritic hand
Intervention for people with arthritic hand joints is often evaluated by the change in range of motion and hand function. Range of hand joint motion is usually recorded by clinicians in a static position with a goniometer. This has provided details of end range position only and to date the actual functional performance of the joint has been difficult to measure and evaluate.
Engineering researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a novel and innovative three-dimensional range of motion capture system. The new technique uses a system of very small markers to track hand and wrist movements during functional tasks. Joint movements are then measured for movements of the wrist, curvature of the palm, all the fingers and thumb movements. The technique has been tested for validity and reliability, and is capable of producing results that are accurate to less than 1 degree.
The technique has been applied by a multidisciplinary team consisting of engineers, occupational therapists and health researchers for specific analysis of arthritic hand joints. Research studies have been conducted to measure the effectiveness of small finger splints in rheumatoid arthritis and evaluating the movement of the thumb in basal thumb joint osteoarthritis. The method gives a more detailed account of the wrist and hand joint movements, alongside dynamic functional capacity.