This study investigated the potential influence of proximal sensory feedback on voluntary distal motor activity in the paretic upper limb of hemiparetic stroke survivors and the potential effect of voluntary distal motor activity on proximal muscle activity. Ten stroke subjects and 10 neurologically intact control subjects performed maximum voluntary isometric flexion and extension, respectively, at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints of the fingers in two static arm postures and under three conditions of electrical stimulation of the arm. The tasks were quantified in terms of maximum MCP torque [MCP flexion (MCP flex) or MCP extension (MCP ext)] and activity of targeted (flexor digitorum superficialis or extensor digitorum communis) and nontargeted upper limb muscles. From a previous study on the MCP stretch reflex poststroke, we expected stroke subjects to exhibit a modulation of voluntary MCP torque production by arm posture and electrical stimulation and increased nontargeted muscle activity. Posture 1 (flexed elbow, neutral shoulder) led to greater MCP flex in stroke subjects than posture 2 (extended elbow, flexed shoulder). Electrical stimulation did not influence MCP flex or MCP ext in either subject group. In stroke subjects, posture 1 led to greater nontargeted upper limb flexor activity during MCP flex and to greater elbow flexor and extensor activity during MCP ext. Stroke subjects exhibited greater elbow flexor activity during MCP flex and greater elbow flexor and extensor activity during MCP ext than control subjects. The results suggest that static arm posture can modulate voluntary distal motor activity and accompanying muscle activity in the paretic upper limb poststroke.
ASJC Scopus subject areas