Understanding the transformation of tendon forces into joint torques would greatly aid in the investigation of the complex temporal and spatial coordination of multiple muscles in finger movements. In this study, the effects of the finger posture on the tendon force transmission within the finger extensor apparatus were investigated. In five cadaver specimens, a constant force was applied sequentially to the two extrinsic extensor tendons in the index finger, extensor digitorum communis and extensor indicis proprius. The responses to this loading, i.e., fingertip force/moment and regional strains of the extensor apparatus, were measured and analyzed to estimate the tendon force transmission into the terminal and central slips of the extensor hood. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that the amount of tendon force transmitted to each tendon slip was significantly affected by finger posture, specifically by the interphalangeal (IP) joint angles (p<0.01). Tendon force transmitted to each of the tendon slips was found to decrease with the IP flexion. The main effect of the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint angle was not as consistent as the IP angle, but there was a strong interaction effect for which MCP flexion led to large decreases in the slip forces (>30%) when the IP joints were extended. The ratio of terminal slip force:central slip force remained relatively constant across postures at approximately 1.7:1. Force dissipation into surrounding structures was found to be largely responsible for the observed force-posture relationship. Due to the significance of posture in the force transmission to the tendon slips, the impact of finger posture should be carefully considered when studying finger motor control or examining injury mechanisms in the extensor apparatus.

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