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Functional Elbow Range of Motion for Contemporary Tasks
Matthew Sardelli, MD1; Robert Z. Tashjian, MD2; Bruce A. MacWilliams, PhD3
1 TRIA Orthopaedic Center, 8100 Northland Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55431. E-mail address: Matthew.Sardelli@hsc.utah.edu
2 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah School of Medicine, 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. E-mail address: Robert.Tashjian@hsc.utah.edu
3 Movement Analysis Laboratory, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Fairfax Road at Virginia Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84103. E-mail address: bmacwilliams@shrinenet.org
View Disclosures and Other Information
Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity.

Investigation performed at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Salt Lake City, and the Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Mar 02;93(5):471-477. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.I.01633
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Elbow range of motion for functional tasks has been previously studied. Motion arcs necessary to complete contemporary tasks such as using a keyboard or cellular telephone have not been studied and could have implications on what is considered to be a functional arc of motion for these tasks. The purpose of this study was to determine elbow range of motion, including flexion-extension, pronation-supination, and varus-valgus angulation, with use of three-dimensional optical tracking technology for several previously described positional and functional tasks along with various contemporary tasks.


Twenty-five patients performed six positional and eleven functional tasks (both historical and contemporary). Elbow flexion-extension, varus-valgus, and forearm rotation (pronation and supination) ranges of motion were measured.


Positional tasks required a minimum (mean and standard deviation) of 27° ± 7° of flexion and a maximum of 149° ± 5° of flexion. Forearm rotation ranged from 20.0° ± 18° of pronation to 104° ± 10° of supination. Varus and valgus angulations ranged between 2° ± 5° of varus to 9° ± 5° of valgus. For functional tasks, the maximum flexion arc was 130° ± 7°, with a minimum value recorded as 23° ± 6° and a maximum value recorded as 142° ± 3°. All of these were for the cellular telephone task. The maximum pronation-supination arc (103° ± 34°) was found with using a fork. Maximum pronation was found with typing on a keyboard (65° ± 8°). Maximum supination was found with opening a door (77° ± 13°). Maximum varus-valgus arc of motion was 11° ± 4°. Minimum valgus (0° ± 6°) was found with cutting with a knife, while maximum valgus (13° ± 6°) was found with opening a door.


Functional elbow range of motion necessary for activities of daily living may be greater than previously reported. Contemporary tasks, such as using a computer mouse and keyboard, appear to require greater pronation than other tasks, and using a cellular telephone usually requires greater flexion than other tasks.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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