The musculoskeletal loading profile of the thumb during pipetting based on tendon displacement

John Z. Wu, Erik W. Sinsel, Justin F. Shroyer, Daniel E. Welcome, Kristin D. Zhao, Kai Nan An, Frank L. Buczek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Strong evidence indicates that highly repetitive manual work is associated with the development of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). One of the occupational activities that involves highly repetitive and forceful hand work is manual pipetting in chemical or biological laboratories. In the current study, we quantified tendon displacement as a parameter to assess the cumulative loading exposure of the musculoskeletal system in the thumb during pipetting. The maximal tendon displacement was found in the flexor pollicis longus (FPL) tendon. Assuming that subjects' pipetting rates were maintained constant during a period of 1. h, the average accumulated tendon displacement in the FPL reached 29. m, which is in the lower range of those observed in other occupational activities, such as typing and nail gun operations. Our results showed that tendon displacement data contain relatively small standard deviations, despite high variances in thumb kinematics, suggesting that the tendon displacements may be useful in evaluating the musculoskeletal loading profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1810
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Inverse dynamics
  • Modeling
  • Muscle-tendon force
  • Pipette
  • Thumb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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