The Advantage of Throwing the First Stone: How Understanding the Evolutionary Demands of Homo sapiens Is Helping Us Understand Carpal Motion

J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 18, No 1, January 2010

Rachel S. Rohde, MD, Joseph J. Crisco, PhD and Scott W. Wolfe, MD Unlike any other diarthrodial joint in the human body, the «wrist joint» is composed of numerous articulations between eight carpal bones, the distal radius, the distal ulna, and five metacarpal bones. The carpal bones articulate with each other as well as with the distal radius, distal ulna, and the metacarpal bases. Multiple theories explaining intercarpal motion have been proposed; however, controversy exists concerning the degree and direction of motion of the individual carpal bones within the two carpal rows during different planes of motion. Recent investigations have suggested that traditional explanations of carpal bone motion may not entirely account for carpal motion in all planes. Better understanding of the complexities of carpal motion through the use of advanced imaging techniques and simultaneous appreciation of human anatomic and functional evolution have led to the hypothesis that the «dart thrower’s motion» of the wrist is uniquely human. Carpal kinematic research and current developments in both orthopaedic surgery and anthropology underscore the importance of the dart thrower’s motion in human functional activities and the clinical implications of these concepts for orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation.

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