Two experimental studies were conducted to investigate flexor tendon excursions. In the first study, tendon excursions due to passive joint motion in various loading condition were evaluated. In the second study, the efficacy of a new technique that used synergistic wrist motion (S-splint) was compared with the traditional dorsal splinting methods: the Kleinert splint (K-splint) and the Brooke Army Hospital/Walter Reed modified Kleinert splint with a palmar bar (P-splint). The results of these studies question the anticipated tendon excursion associated with postoperative splinting. They demonstrated that the measured tendon excursion under a condition of low tendon tension was almost half that of theoretically predicted values. In zone II, the magnitude of excursion introduced by the three mobilization methods were in descending order: S-splint, P-splint, K-splint (p < 0.05). Differential tendon excursion between the flexor digitorum profundus and the flexor digitorum superficialis had a mean value of 3 mm and was not significantly different among the three methods. Passive proximal interphalangeal joint motion was the most effective means of providing increased amplitude of tendon gliding in zone II. Passive distal interphalangeal joint motion did not increase excursion in zone II as much as had been predicted.
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