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Park, J., Pazin, N., Friedman, J., Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Latash, M. L. (2014). Mechanical properties of the human hand digits: Age-related differences. Clinical Biomechanics, 29(2), 129–137.
Mechanical properties of human digits may have significant implications for the hand function. We quantified several mechanical characteristics of individual digits in young and older adults.
Digit tip friction was measured at several normal force values using a method of induced relative motion between the digit tip and the object surface. A modified quick-release paradigm was used to estimate digit apparent stiffness, damping, and inertial parameters. The subjects grasped a vertical handle instrumented with force/moment sensors using a prismatic grasp with four digits; the handle was fixed to the table. Unexpectedly, one of the sensors yielded leading to a quick displacement of the corresponding digit. A second-order, linear model was used to fit the force/displacement data.
Friction of the digit pads was significantly lower in older adults. The apparent stiffness coefficient values were higher while the damping coefficients were lower in older adults leading to lower damping ratio. The damping ratio was above unity for most data in young adults and below unity for older adults. Quick release of a digit led to force changes in other digits of the hand, likely due to inertial hand properties. These phenomena of “mechanical enslaving” were smaller in older adults although no significant difference was found in the inertial parameter in the two groups.
The decreased friction and damping ratio present challenges for the control of everyday prehensile tasks. They may lead to excessive digit forces and low stability of the grasped object.
Friedman, J., & Korman, M. (2012). Kinematic Strategies Underlying Improvement in the Acquisition of a Sequential Finger Task with Self-Generated vs. Cued Repetition Training. PLoS One, 7(12), e52063.
Abstract: Many motor skills, such as typing, consist of articulating simple movements into novel sequences that are executed faster and smoother with practice. Dynamics of re-organization of these movement sequences with multi-session training and its dependence on the amount of self-regulation of pace during training is not yet fully understood. In this study, participants practiced a sequence of key presses. Training sessions consisted of either externally (Cued) or self-initiated (Uncued) training. Long-term improvements in performance speed were mainly due to reducing gaps between finger movements in both groups, but Uncued training induced higher gains. The underlying kinematic strategies producing these changes and the representation of the trained sequence differed significantly across subjects, although net gains in speed were similar. The differences in long-term memory due to the type of training and the variation in strategies between subjects, suggest that the different neural mechanisms may subserve the improvements observed in overall performance.
Shaklai, S., Mimouni-Bloch, A., Levin, M., & Friedman, J. (2017). Development of finger force coordination in children. Experimental Brain Research, 235(12), 3709–3720.
Abstract: Coordination is often observed as body parts moving together. However, when producing force with multiple fingers, the optimal coordination is not to produce similar forces with each finger, but rather for each finger to correct mistakes of other fingers. In this study, we aim to determine whether and how this skill develops in children aged 4-12 years. We measured this sort of coordination using the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis (UCM). We recorded finger forces produced by 60 typically developing children aged between 4 and 12 years in a finger-pressing task. The children controlled the height of an object on a screen by the total amount of force they produced on force sensors. We found that the synergy index, a measure of the relationship between “good” and “bad” variance, increased linearly as a function of age. This improvement was achieved by a selective reduction in “bad” variance rather than an increase in “good” variance. We did not observe differences between males and females, and the synergy index was not able to predict outcomes of upper limb behavioral tests after controlling for age. As children develop between the ages of 4 and 12 years, their ability to produce negative covariation between their finger forces improves, likely related to their improved ability to perform dexterous tasks.
Raveh, E., Friedman, J., & Portnoy, S. (2018). Evaluation of the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on performance and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm. Clin Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: Objective: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on the performance time and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm.
Design: A repeated-measures design with a counterbalanced order of two conditions.
Setting: Laboratory setting.
Subjects: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age=65 ± 13 years). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems.
Interventions: Subjects performed grasping tasks with their prosthesis, while controlling a virtual car on a road with their intact hand. The dual task was performed twice: with and without vibrotactile feedback.
Main measures: Performance time of each of the grasping tasks and gaze behavior, measured by the number of times the subjects shifted their gaze toward their hand, the relative time they applied their attention to the screen, and percentage of error in the secondary task.
Results: The mean performance time was significantly shorter (P=0.024) when using vibrotactile feedback (93.2 ± 9.6 seconds) compared with the performance time measured when vibrotactile feedback was not available (107.8 ± 20.3seconds). No significant differences were found between the two conditions in the number of times the gaze shifted from the screen to the hand, in the time the subjects applied their attention to the screen, and in the time the virtual car was off-road, as a percentage of the total game time
(51.4 ± 15.7 and 50.2 ± 19.5, respectively).
Conclusion: Adding vibrotactile feedback improved performance time during grasping in a dual-task paradigm. Prosthesis users may use vibrotactile feedback to perform better during daily tasks, when multiple cognitive demands are present.
Raveh, E., Portnoy, S., & Friedman, J. (2018). Myoelectric Prosthesis Users Improve Performance Time and Accuracy Using Vibrotactile Feedback When Visual Feedback Is Disturbed. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback (VTF) in myoelectric prosthesis users during performance of a functional task when visual feedback is disturbed. DESIGN: A repeated-measures design with a counter-balanced order of 3 conditions. SETTING: Laboratory setting. PARTICIPANTS: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age 65+/-13y). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems. INTERVENTIONS: All participants performed the modified Box and Blocks Test, grasping and manipulating 16 blocks over a partition using their myoelectric prosthesis. This was performed 3 times: in full light, in a dark room without VTF, and in a dark room with VTF. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Performance time, that is, the time needed to transfer 1 block, and accuracy during performance, measured by number of empty grips, empty transitions with no block and block drops from the hand. RESULTS: Significant differences were found in all outcome measures when VTF was added, with improved performance time (4.2 vs 5.3s) and a reduced number of grasping errors (3.0 vs 6.5 empty grips, 1.5 vs 4 empty transitions, 2.0 vs 4.5 block drops). CONCLUSIONS: Adding VTF to myoelectric prosthesis users has positive effects on performance time and accuracy when visual feedback is disturbed.