Biomedical Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



The trapeziometacarpal (TMC) joint is one of the most important joints in the human body. It provides the thumb with the ability to cross over the palm of the hand, thus enabling motions of pinch and grip essential in performing routine daily activities. In the case of repeated use of this joint, the articular cartilage may wear through a progressive joint disease known as osteoarthritis (OA). This disease is characterized by pain at the base of the thumb, decreased range of motion, thumb instability, and decreased grip and pinch strength leading to impairment in vocational activities, significantly affecting quality of life. Much of the research surrounding the TMC joint has focused on development of non-surgical and surgical options for treatment of early and late stage OA. Unfortunately, the extent of research on characterizing the biophysical properties of the TMC joint and surrounding tissue is limited. The following research will seek to identify the ligamentous structures hypothesized to act as primary stabilizers of the TMC joint through advanced, high-resolution motion analyses. Mechanical properties of the primary ligamentous stabilizers will be obtained through uniaxial tensile testing of ligamentous tissue. This tissue will be further characterized through histology, staining for identification of the presence and orientation of essential proteins which may serve to support the argument for primary stabilizing tissue. Using results from the tissue characterization studies, two techniques are presented for the treatment of early and late stage TMC joint osteoarthris, which are designed to maintain and/or regain stability of this joint. The final section introduces a methodology for development of patient-specific computational finite element models of the hand and thumb. Input properties of these models are based on computed tomography data and outputs from the motion analysis and mechanical testing studies.




biomechanics, thumb basal joint, thumb carpometacarpal joint, finite element analysis, motion tracking, histology, osteoarthritis

Document Type


Degree Name

Biomedical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Biomedical Engineering

Project Sponsors

This project was supported in part by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health through Grant Number UL1 TR000041. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.