The complexities of the function and structure of human fingers have long been recognised. The in vivo forces in the human finger tendon network during different activities are critical information for clinical diagnosis, surgical treatment, prosthetic finger design, and biomimetic hand development. In this study, we propose a novel method for in vivo force estimation for the finger tendon network by combining a three-dimensional motion analysis technique and a novel biomechanical tendon network model. The extensor mechanism of a human index finger is represented by an interconnected tendinous network moving around the phalanx’s dorsum. A novel analytical approach based on the “Principle of Minimum Total Potential Energy” is used to calculate the forces and deformations throughout the tendon network of the extensor mechanism when subjected to an external load and with the finger posture defined by measurement data. The predicted deformations and forces in the tendon network are in broad agreement with the results obtained by previous experimental in vitro studies. The proposed methodology provides a promising tool for investigating the biomechanical function of complex interconnected tendon networks in vivo.
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