Muscle material properties in passive and active stroke-impaired muscle

Sabrina S.M. Lee*, Kristen L. Jakubowski, Sam C. Spear, William Z. Rymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Stroke survivors routinely experience long-term motor and sensory impairments. In parallel with neurological changes, material properties of muscles in the impaired limbs, such as muscle stiffness, may also change progressively. However, these stiffness measures are routinely derived from individual joint stiffness, representing whole muscle groups. Here, we use shear wave (SW) ultrasound elastography to measure SW velocity, as a surrogate measure of stiffness, to quantify material properties in individual muscles. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to compare muscle material properties of the bicep brachii in stroke survivors and in age-matched control subjects by measuring SW velocity at rest and different voluntary activation levels. Our main findings show that at rest, the SW velocity was on average 41% greater in the paretic muscle compared the contralateral non-paretic muscle. The mean passive SW velocity across all subjects were 2.34 ± 0.41 m/s for the non-paretic side, 3.30 ± 1.20 m/s for the paretic side, and 2.24 ± 0.18 for controls. SW velocity was significantly different in muscles of the paretic and non-paretic side (p < 0.001), but not between muscles of the non-paretic and controls (p = 0.47). As voluntary activation increased, SW velocity increased non-linearly, with an average power fit of r2 = 0.83 ± 0.09 for the non-paretic side, r2 = 0.61 ± 0.24 for the paretic side, and r2 = 0.24 ± 0.15 for the healthy age-matched controls. In active muscle (10, 25, 50, 75, 100% maximum voluntary contraction), there was no significant difference in SW velocity between the non-paretic, paretic, and control muscles. These findings suggest that stroke-impaired muscles have potentially altered muscle material properties, specifically stiffness, and that passive and active stiffness may contribute differently to total muscle stiffness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Jan 23 2019


  • Muscle
  • Shear wave elastography
  • Stiffness
  • Stroke
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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