The Effects of Complex Wrist and Forearm Posture on Wrist Range of Motion

By Marshall, Matthew M.; Mozrall, Jacqueline R. et al. | Human Factors, June 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Effects of Complex Wrist and Forearm Posture on Wrist Range of Motion

Marshall, Matthew M., Mozrall, Jacqueline R., Shealy, Jasper E., Human Factors


In order to minimize the risk of repetitive trauma injuries, postures or motions that place joints near the limits of their range of motion (ROM) should be avoided. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded in a recent survey of epidemiological studies that strong evidence exists to show a positive association between work that requires extreme postures and the prevalence of hand/wrist tendinitis (Bernard, 1997). Postural deviations are particularly important in combination with high-force exertions or highly repetitive motion (Keyserling, Donoghue, Punnett, & Miller, 1982). In an effort to study the role of wrist posture in the etiology of cumulative trauma disorders, much research has been done to determine the typical range of motion of the human wrist (Eastman Kodak Company, 1983; Neese, Konz, & Reams, 1989; Wagner, 1988; Webb Associates, 1978). Most of these studies, however, have looked at the wrist in terms of motion in a single, isolated plane (flexion/extension, radial/ulnar deviation, and forearm pronation/supination) without determining how the combinations and interactions of these individual motions may affect the ROM of the wrist.

The primary objective of this research was to determine if changing the complexity of the wrist/forearm posture would significantly affect the ROM of the wrist. If this is the case, it may be inappropriate to use these earlier ROM data as benchmarks for the capacity of wrist motion, given that most practical applications of such data involve complex deviations in more than one plane of motion. This is especially true of industrial and occupational applications, in which many of the jobs analyzed require simultaneous wrist motion in all three axes.

Secondary to the ROM study, we wanted to assess the accuracy of the Penny & Giles biaxial electrogoniometer (Biometrics Ltd., Gwent, United Kingdom) by comparing its measurements with those obtained manually and considered to be "true." Electrogoniometry offers a quick, objective, and relatively unobtrusive method of acquiring upper-extremity postural data. However, a number of problems with the instrument related specifically to crosstalk between the channels and zero drift of the instrument have been documented (Buchholz & Wellman, 1997).



The two sample groups consisted of 35 men (mean age of 23.0 years, standard deviation of 4.5) and 19 women (mean age of 22.4 years, standard deviation of 4.8). The participants were all volunteers from Rochester Institute of Technology. All participants were free of wrist pain and had no history of wrist disorders. Data for men and women were analyzed separately in this study to avoid the potential effects of anatomical differences and to be consistent with other ROM studies (Garrett, 1971; Neese, Konz, & Reams, 1989; Wagner, 1988). Previous research has shown that women typically exhibit more flexibility in the wrist joint than men (Webb Associates, 1978).

To ensure that the participants used in this study were representative of a normal population, participants' wrist circumference measurements were obtained for both men (mean of 17.3 cm, standard deviation of 0.82) and women (mean of 15.2 cm, standard deviation of 0.80). These values did not differ significantly from population data obtained by Webb Associates (1978), who found men to have a mean wrist circumference of 17.4 cm (standard deviation of 1.02) and women to have a mean of 15.4 cm (standard deviation of 1.03).


A fixture was built to provide accurate and reliable measurements of the angular displacement of complex wrist/forearm postures. Two plates were attached using a steel hinge joint that could move up and down (in the flexion and extension plane) while restricting lateral movement (in the radial and ulnar deviation plane). This fixture allowed flexion and extension to be performed and measured while participants maintained a secondary radial/ulnar deviation posture.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Effects of Complex Wrist and Forearm Posture on Wrist Range of Motion


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?