Limited forearm motion compensated by thoracohumeral kinematics when performing tasks requiring pronation and supination

Barry P. Pereira, Ashvin Thambyah, Taeyong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study investigates the altered thoracohumeral kinematics when forearm rotation is restricted while performing five activities requiring pronation and supination. Two splints simulated both a fixed-supinated or fixed-neutral forearm in six healthy subjects; the three-dimensional coupled relationship among motion about the forearm, elbow, and shoulder were analyzed. In using a screwdriver, the normal range of forearm rotation of 77.6° (SD = 30.8°) was reduced in the fixed-supinated to 11.3° (SD = 2.9°) and fixed-neutral to 18.2° (SD = 6.2°). This restriction from the fixed-supinated and fixed-neutral forearms was compensated at the shoulder by a significant increase in the total range of (1) ad/abduction by 57.3° and 62.8° respectively (p < .001), (2) forward-reverse flexion (24.3° and 18.2° respectively; p < .05) and (3) internal-external rotation (37.1° and 44.2° respectively; p < .001). A similar result was demonstrated for the doorknob activity. The elbow did not significantly contribute to forearm rotation (p = .14), and is believed to be due to the elbow axis being orthogonal and oblique to the forearm axis. For open kinetic-chain activities, with a fixed-supinated forearm performing there was a significant coupled increase in ad/abduction (p < .05) and int/external rotation (p < .05) for the phone and feeding tasks, with the phone task also having a significantly increased forward shoulder flexion (p < .05). For the fixed-neutral forearm, significant compensatory movement was only seen in the feeding task with increased ad/abduction and internal-external shoulder rotation (p < .05) and the card inserting task with increased ad/abduction and forward-reverse shoulder flexion. Limited forearm function requires compensatory motion from adjacent joints to perform activities that require pronation and supination. This study quantifies the compensatory mechanism about the shoulder in a forearm limited in prosupination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Biomechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Activities of daily living
  • Compensatory mechanisms
  • Forearm biomechanics
  • Limited forearm rotation
  • Shoulder kinematics


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