A Method to Estimate the Oblique Arch Folding Axis for Thumb Assistive Devices

  • Visakha K. NanayakkaraEmail author
  • Nantachai Sornkaran
  • Hasitha Wegiriya
  • Nikolaos Vitzilaios
  • Demetrios Venetsanos
  • Nicolas Rojas
  • M. Necip Sahinkaya
  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11649)


People who use the thumb in repetitive manipulation tasks are likely to develop thumb related impairments from excessive loading at the base joints of the thumb. Biologically informed wearable robotic assistive mechanisms can provide viable solutions to prevent occurring such injuries. This paper tests the hypothesis that an external assistive force at the metacarpophalangeal joint will be most effective when applied perpendicular to the palm folding axis in terms of maximizing the contribution at the thumb-tip as well as minimizing the projections on the vulnerable base joints of the thumb. Experiments conducted using human subjects validated the predictions made by a simplified kinematic model of the thumb that includes a foldable palm, showing that: (1) the palm folding angle varies from \(71.5^{\circ }\) to \(75.3^{\circ }\) (from the radial axis in the coronal plane) for the four thumb-finger pairs and (2) the most effective assistive force direction (from the ulnar axis in the coronal plane) at the MCP joint is in the range \(0^{\circ }< \psi < 30^{\circ }\) for the four thumb-finger pairs. These findings provide design guidelines for hand assistive mechanisms to maximize the efficacy of thumb external assistance.


Thumb kinematics Foldable palm Metacarpophalangeal joint Thumb assistance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Visakha K. Nanayakkara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nantachai Sornkaran
    • 2
  • Hasitha Wegiriya
    • 2
  • Nikolaos Vitzilaios
    • 3
  • Demetrios Venetsanos
    • 4
  • Nicolas Rojas
    • 5
  • M. Necip Sahinkaya
    • 6
  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara
    • 5
  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentCEMAST CampusFarehamUK
  2. 2.Department of InformaticsKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Automotive EngineeringCoventry UniversityCoventryUK
  5. 5.Dyson School of Design EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.Department of Mechanical and Automotive EngineeringKingston University LondonKingstonUK

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