BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE - Although stroke survivors often display abnormal joint torque patterns, studies of torque-coupling in the lower limb are lacking, despite their potential impact on gait abnormalities. METHODS - Twenty-two chronic ambulating stroke subjects and 11 age-matched control subjects produced isometric hip torques in the frontal and sagittal planes with the hemiparetic leg (or randomly selected leg for the control group) in postures that resemble stages of gait. The involuntary knee torques were also recorded although no feedback or instructions were given. RESULTS - In the toe-off and midswing postures, the stroke group had a significant torque bias toward extension and adduction, whereas the control group had a symmetric torque space. The stroke group also produced significantly smaller torques than the control group in the flexion and abduction/flexion directions. Finally, the stroke group displayed abnormal coupling of knee extension with hip adduction, unique to the toe-off position. CONCLUSIONS - Whereas gait abnormalities after stroke have been attributed to a number of factors, including sagittal plane strength impairments at the hip, knee, and ankle, our findings indicate that neuromechanical changes after stroke may play a significant role in determining the nature of the movement abnormality. Specifically, abnormal hip adduction and knee extension torque coupling was observed, in addition to direction-specific hip torque weakness. Future studies are needed to delineate the differential contributions of each potential factor to gait abnormalities. Understanding the underlying neuromechanical changes after stroke may aid the development of rehabilitation strategies.
- Torque coupling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing