The effect of wrist posture on extrinsic finger muscle activity during single joint movements
Wrist posture impacts the muscle lengths and moment arms of the extrinsic finger muscles that cross the wrist. As a result, the electromyographic (EMG) activity associated with digit movement at different wrist postures may also change. Therefore, we sought to quantify the posture-dependence of extrinsic finger muscle activity. Fine-wire bipolar electrodes were inserted in the extrinsic hand muscles of able-bodied subjects to record EMG activity during wrist and finger movements in various postures. EMG activity of all the recorded finger muscles were significantly different (p<.05, ANOVA) when performing the same movement in five different wrist postures. EMG activity varied by up to 70%, with the highest levels of activity observed in finger extensors when the wrist was extended. Similarly, finger flexors were most active when the wrist was flexed. For the finger flexors, EMG variations with wrist posture were most prominent for index finger muscles, while the EMG activity of all finger extensor muscles were similarly modulated. The extrinsic finger muscles also showed significant activity during wrist movements with the digits held still regardless of finger posture, suggesting that they may play a role in generating torque during wrist movements. Finally, we developed a pair of generalized classifiers that show that finger muscle EMG can be used to predict wrist posture. These results may impact the design of biomimetic control algorithms for myoelectric prosthetic hands, but further work in transradial amputees is necessary to determine whether this phenomenon persists after amputation.