Robust identification of three-dimensional thumb and index finger kinematics with a minimal set of markers

Raviraj Nataraj, Zong Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study presents a methodology to determine thumb and index finger kinematics while utilizing a minimal set of markers. The motion capture of skin-surface markers presents inherent challenges for the accurate and comprehensive measurement of digit kinematics. As such, it is desirable to utilize robust methods for assessing digit kinematics with fewer markers. The approach presented in this study involved coordinate system alignment, locating joint centers of rotation, and a solution model to estimate three-dimensional (3-D) digit kinematics. The solution model for each digit was based on assumptions of rigid-body interactions, specific degrees of freedom (DOFs) at each located joint, and the aligned coordinate system definitions. Techniques of inverse kinematics and optimization were applied to calculate the 3-D position and orientation of digit segments during pinching between the thumb and index finger. The 3-D joint center locations were reliably fitted with mean coefficients of variation below 5%. A parameterized form of the solution model yielded feasible solutions that met specified tolerance and convergence criteria for over 85% of the test points. The solution results were intuitive to the pinching function. The thumb was measured to be rotated about the CMC joint to bring it into opposition to the index finger and larger rotational excursions (>10 deg) were observed in flexion/extension compared to abduction/adduction and axial rotation for all joints. While the solution model produced results similar to those computed from a full marker set, the model facilitated the usage of fewer markers, which inherently lessened the effects of passive motion error and reduced the post-experimental effort required for marker processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number091002
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Digits
  • Hand
  • Kinematics
  • Motion analysis
  • Optimization
  • Precision pinch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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