Increased motor variability facilitates motor learning in weight shift toward the paretic side during walking in individuals post-stroke

Seoung Hoon Park, Chao Jung Hsu, Jui Te Lin, Weena Dee, Elliot J. Roth, William Z. Rymer, Ming Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether applying “varied” versus constant pelvis assistance force mediolaterally toward the paretic side of stroke survivors during walking would result in short-term improvement in weight shift toward the paretic side. Twelve individuals post-stroke (60.4 ± 6.2 years; gait speed: 0.53 ± 0.19 m/s) were tested under two conditions (varied vs. constant). Each condition was conducted in a single separate session, which consisted of (a) treadmill walking with no assistance force for 1 min (baseline), pelvis assistance toward the paretic side for 9 min (adaptation), and then no force for additional 1 min (post-adaptation), and (b) overground walking. In the “varied” condition, the magnitude of force was randomly changed across steps between 30% and 100% of the predetermined amount. In the abrupt condition, the magnitude of force was kept constant at 100% of the predetermined amount. Participants exhibited greater improvements in weight shift toward the paretic side (p < 0.01) and in muscle activity of plantar flexors and hip adductors of the paretic leg (p = 0.02) from baseline to late post-adaptation period for the varied condition than for the constant condition. Motor variability of the peak pelvis displacement at baseline was correlated with improvement in weight shift toward the paretic side after training for the varied (R2 = 0.64, p = 0.01) and the constant condition (R2 = 0.39, p = 0.03). These findings suggest that increased motor variability, induced by applying the varied pelvis assistance, may facilitate motor learning in weight shift and gait symmetry during walking in individuals post-stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3490-3506
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume53
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • forced use
  • locomotion
  • motor learning
  • motor variability
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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