Motor impairments related to brain injury timing in early hemiparesis. part ii: Abnormal upper extremity joint torque synergies

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24 Scopus citations


Background. Extensive neuromotor development occurs early in human life, and the timing of brain injury may affect the resulting motor impairment. In Part I of this series, it was demonstrated that the distribution of weakness in the upper extremity depended on the timing of brain injury in individuals with childhood-onset hemiparesis. Objective. The goal of this study was to characterize how timing of brain injury affects joint torque synergies, or losses of independent joint control. Method. Twenty-four individuals with hemiparesis were divided into 3 groups based on the timing of their injury: before birth (PRE-natal, n = 8), around the time of birth (PERI-natal, n = 8), and after 6 months of age (POST-natal, n = 8). Individuals with hemiparesis and 8 typically developing peers participated in maximal isometric shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger torque generation tasks while their efforts were recorded by a multiple degree-of-freedom load cell. Motor output in 4 joints of the upper extremity was concurrently measured during 8 primary torque generation tasks to quantify joint torque synergies. Results. There were a number of significant coupling patterns identified in individuals with hemiparesis that differed from the typically developing group. POST-natal differences were most noted in the coupling of shoulder abductors with elbow, wrist, and finger flexors, while the PRE-natal group demonstrated significant distal joint coupling with elbow flexion. Conclusion. The torque synergies measured provide indirect evidence for the use of bulbospinal pathways in the POST-natal group, while those with earlier injury may use relatively preserved ipsilateral corticospinal motor pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • cerebral palsy
  • childhood hemiparesis
  • childhood hemiplegia
  • independent joint control
  • selective motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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