Effects of geometric joint constraints on the selection of final arm posture during reaching: A simulation study

Derek G. Kamper*, W. Zev Rymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Significant debate exists regarding the neural strategies underlying the positioning and orienting of the hand during voluntary reaching movements of the human upper extremity. Some authors have suggested that positioning and orienting are controlled independently, while others have argued that a strong interdependence exists. In an effort to address this uncertainty, our study employed computer simulations to examine the impact of physiological limitations of joint rotation on the proposed independence of hand position and orientation. Specifically, we analyzed the effects of geometric constraints on final arm postures using a 7 degree-of-freedom model of the human arm. For 20 different hand configurations within the attainable workspace, we computed sets of achievable joint angles by applying inverse kinematics. From each set, we then calculated the locus of possible elbow positions for the particular final hand posture. When the joints were allowed 360°of rotation, the loci formed complete circles; however, when joint ranges were limited to physiological values, the extent of the loci decreased to an average are angle of 54.6°(±27.9°). Imposition of joint limits also led to practically linear relationships between joint angles within a solution set. These theoretical results suggest a requirement for coordinated interaction between control of the joints associated with hand position and those involved with hand orientation in order to ensure attainable joint trajectories. Furthermore, it is conceivable that some of the correlations observed between joint angles in the course of natural reaching movements result from geometric constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-138
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Geometric constraints
  • Human
  • Posture
  • Upper limb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of geometric joint constraints on the selection of final arm posture during reaching: A simulation study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this