Coordination of thumb joints during opposition

Zong Ming Li, Jie Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Thumb opposition plays a vital role in hand function. Kinematically, thumb opposition results from composite movements from multiple joints moving in multiple directions. The purpose of this study was to examine the coordination of thumb joints during opposition tasks. A total of 15 female subjects with asymptomatic hands were studied. Three-dimensional angular kinematics of the carpometacarpal (CMC), metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and interphalangeal (IP) joints were obtained by a marker-based motion analysis system. Thumb opposition revealed coordination among joints in a specific direction (inter-joint coordination) and among different directions within a joint (intra-joint coordination). In particular, linear couplings existed between the flexion and pronation at the CMC joint, and between the flexion of the CMC joint and flexion of the MCP joint. Principal component analysis showed that only two principal components adequately represented the thumb opposition data of seven movement directions. A term functional degrees of freedom by virtue of principal component analysis was proposed to uncover the extent of movement coordination in functional tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-510
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumduction
  • Coordination
  • Hand
  • Joint
  • Movement
  • Opposition
  • Thumb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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