Evidence of impaired neuromuscular responses in the support leg to a destabilizing swing phase perturbation in hemiparetic gait

Bahar Sharafi*, Gilles Hoffmann, Andrew Q. Tan, Yasin Y. Dhaher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The neuromuscular mechanisms that underlie post-stroke impairment in reactive balance control during gait are not fully understood. Previous research has described altered muscle activations in the paretic leg in response to postural perturbations from static positions. Additionally, attenuation of interlimb reflexes after stroke has been reported. Our goal was to characterize post-stroke changes to neuromuscular responses in the stance leg following a swing phase perturbation during gait. We hypothesized that, following a trip, altered timing, sequence, and magnitudes of perturbation-induced activations would emerge in the paretic and nonparetic support legs of stroke survivors compared to healthy control subjects. The swing foot was interrupted, while subjects walked on a treadmill. In healthy subjects, a sequence of perturbation-induced activations emerged in the contralateral stance leg with mean onset latencies of 87–147 ms. The earliest latencies occurred in the hamstrings and hip abductor and adductors. The hamstrings, the adductor magnus, and the gastrocnemius dominated the relative balance of perturbation-induced activations. The sequence and balance of activations were largely preserved after stroke. However, onset latencies were significantly delayed across most muscles in both paretic and nonparetic stance legs. The shortest latencies observed suggest the involvement of interlimb reflexes with supraspinal pathways. The preservation of the sequence and balance of activations may point to a centrally programmed postural response that is preserved after stroke, while post-stroke delays may suggest longer transmission times for interlimb reflexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3497-3508
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Bilateral impairment
  • Hemiparetic gait
  • Interlimb reflex
  • Long-latency reflex
  • Reactive balance control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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