Author ORCID Identifier

Brian A. Knarr

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Co-contraction is the simultaneous activation of agonist and antagonist muscles that produces forces around a joint. It is unknown if the use of a wrist-driven 3D printed transitional prostheses has any influence on the neuromuscular motor control strategies of the affected hand of children with unilateral upper-limb reduction deficiencies. Thus, the purpose of the current investigation was to examine the coactivation index (CI) of children with congenital upper-limb reduction deficiencies before and after 6 months of using a wrist-driven 3D printed partial hand prosthesis.

Methods: Electromyographic activity of wrist flexors and extensors (flexor carpi ulnaris and extensor digitorum) was recorded during maximal voluntary contraction of the affected and non-affected wrists. Co-contraction was calculated using the coactivation index and was expressed as percent activation of antagonist over agonist. Nine children (two girls and seven boys, 6 to 16 years of age) with congenital upper-limb deficiencies participated in this study and were fitted with a wrist-driven 3D printed prosthetic hand. From the nine children, five (two girls and three boys, 7 to 10 years of age) completed a second visit after using the wrist-driven 3D printed partial hand prosthesis for 6 months.

Results: Separate two-way repeated measures ANOVAs were performed to analyze the coactivation index and strength data. There was a significant main effect for hand with the affected hand resulting in a higher coactivation index for flexion and extension than the non-affected hand. For wrist flexion there was a significant main effect for time indicating that the affected and non-affected hand had a significantly lower coactivation index after a period of 6 months.

Conclusion: The use of a wrist-driven 3D printed hand prosthesis lowered the coactivation index by 70% in children with congenital upper limb reduction deficiencies. This reduction in coactivation and possible improvement in motor control strategies can potentially improve prosthetic rehabilitation outcomes.


© 2018 The Author(s).

Journal Title

Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Included in

Biomechanics Commons