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What Is the Biomechanics of the Hand?

A model of a human hand.
Hands.
Bones give hands their structure.
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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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The human body is an incredibly complex structure capable of performing many amazing tasks. Biomechanics is the science of human movement, in a way analogous to the mechanical study of machines. Biomechanics of the hand is the application of these principles to hand-specific movements.

The biomechanics of the hand are important to study for a variety of reasons. Human hands are responsible for performing many necessary tasks, which people often take for granted. Without the complexities of hand movements, people could not hold a cup, write with a pencil, or type on a computer. All of these tasks require the intricate coordination of the hand, and studying these movements may help in understanding more about how and why the hand functions. This knowledge is useful in performance improvement as well as potentially providing helpful strategies for those who may be unable to use their hands properly.

An in-depth understanding of hand biomechanics can be difficult to acquire; however, knowing the general muscles and movements of the hand may be helpful in providing a baseline comprehension of the biomechanics of the hand. The first step in reaching this point is understanding the structures involved in hand biomechanics. These structures are primarily bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Muscles are contractile units responsible for movement, bones give the hand its structure, and tendons and ligaments work together to hold everything in place, acting as liaisons between muscles and bones.

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The hand can pronate, or rotate with the palm toward the ground, supinate, or rotate with the palm up, flex extend, and allow for the fingers to move in all sorts of directions. These movements in coordination with each other allow for the hand to accomplish almost any fine motor task. These complex movements paired with hand structures are the basis of the biomechanics of the hand.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic muscles are responsible for the biomechanics of the hand. This means that there are muscular structures residing outside the hand that contribute to hand movement. A few of the muscles actively involved in hand movements are extensor indicis, extensor digitorum communis, and the extensor pollicis brevis. In medical concepts and terminology, understanding the basic components can help shed light on the overall meaning. Putting all of the simple pieces together into a complex system allows for the amazing movements described through the study of the biomechanics of the hand.

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