Phase-dependent deficits during reach-to-grasp after human spinal cord injury

Yuming Lei, Monica A Perez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most cervical spinal cord injuries result in asymmetrical functional impairments in hand and arm function. However, the extent to which reach-to-grasp movements are affected in humans with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) remains poorly understood. Using kinematics and electromyographic (EMG) recordings in hand and arm muscles we studied the different phases of unilateral self-paced reach-to-grasp movements (arm acceleration, hand opening and clos-ing) to a small cylinder in the more and less affected arms of individuals with cervical SCI and in age-matched controls. We found that SCI subjects showed prolonged movement duration in both arms during arm acceleration, and hand opening and closing compared with controls. Notably, the more affected arm showed an additional increase in movement duration at the time to close the hand compared with the less affected arm. Also, the time at which the index finger and thumb contacted the object and the variability of finger movement trajectory were increased in the more compared with the less affected arm of SCI participants. Participants with prolonged movement duration during hand closing were those with more pronounced deficits in sensory function. The muscle activation ratio between the first dorsal interosseous and abductor pollicis brevis muscles decreased during hand closing in the more compared with the less affected arm of SCI participants. Our results suggest that deficits in movement kinematics during reach-to-grasp movements are more pronounced at the time to close the hand in the more affected arm of SCI participants, likely related to deficits in EMG muscle activation and sensory function. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Humans with cervical spinal cord injury usually present asymmetrical functional impairments in hand and arm function. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that deficits in movement kinematics during reaching and grasping movements are more pronounced at the time to close the hand in the more affected arm of spinal cord injury. We suggest that this is in part related to deficits in muscle activation ratios between hand muscles and a decrease in sensory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Volume119
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Arm movements
  • Electromyography
  • Grasping
  • Hand function
  • Kinematics
  • Reaching
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Tetraplegia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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