A biomechanical study of normal functional elbow motion

B. F. Morrey, L. J. Askew, K. N. An, E. Y. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

799 Scopus citations


We studied thirty-three normal patients, eighteen women and fifteen men, for normal motion and the amount of elbow motion required for fifteen activities of daily living. The amounts of elbow flexion and forearm rotation (pronation and supination) were measured simultaneously by means of an electrogoniometer. Activities of dressing and hygiene require elbow positioning from about 140 degrees of flexion needed to reach the occiput to 15 degrees of flexion required to tie a shoe. Most of these activities are performed with the forearm in zero to 50 degrees of supination. Other activities of daily living (such as eating, using a telephone, or opening a door) are accomplished with arcs of motion of varying magnitudes. Most of the activities of daily living that were studied in this project can be accomplished with 100 degrees of elbow flexion (from 30 to 130 degrees) and 100 degrees of forearm rotation (50 degrees of pronation and 50 degrees of supination). Clinical relevance: These data, not previously recorded, may be used to provide an objective basis for the determination of disability impairment, to determine the optimum position for elbow splinting or arthrodesis, and to assist in the design of elbow prostheses. The motion needed to perform essential daily activities is obtainable with a successful total elbow arthroplasty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-877
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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