Measurement of Functional Wrist Motion

  • Hazel Boyd

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Little is known, from a clinical perspective, about the use of wrist motion during daily living activities. This work aimed to identify an informative list of physical tasks that could be measured practically in a clinical setting. Measurement methods including data gloves were investigated, but these were not used for reasons of practicality and accuracy. A commercial electrogoniometer system was chosen and used to measure wrist motion in flexion/extension and radial/ulnar deviation planes while eighteen right-handed, healthy, volunteer subjects (twelve male and six female, aged 23 to 56 years, mean 29.9 years) carried out mock-ups of the twelve everyday tasks listed in the Michigan Hand Questionnaire. The 2-plane data from each task-measurement test were displayed on an angle-angle scatter plot, overlaid with an elliptical, estimated maximum-motion envelope. The mean ranges of motion, averaged over all eighteen subjects, varied widely between tasks: 1.3° of flexion/extension (S.D. 1.49°) and 1.4° of radial/ulnar deviation (S.D. 2.10°) were seen while holding a glass of water, and corresponding values of 61.4° (S.D. 12.1°) and 24.3° (S.D. 7.79°) while buttoning a shirt. Frequency plots were also generated to show which wrist positions were most commonly used during the tasks. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to reduce the original task list to just four tasks which represented a wide range of aspects of wrist motion, including large mean ranges of motion and mean locations that were displaced away from the neutral wrist position. These four short-listed tasks (holding a frying pan, turning a key in a lock, holding a glass of water and buttoning a shirt) could all be carried out whilst seated, with little reliance on other physiological joints and with low-cost props. The overall approach described in this thesis could be refined into a useful clinical tool, either for identifying motion impairments tracking individual patients’ progress. In particular, the use of the elliptical estimated motion envelopes gave immediate and useful context to the task data.
Date of Award1 Sept 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTony Miles (Supervisor) & James Cunningham (Supervisor)


  • Functional wrist motion
  • measurement

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