Reducing abnormal muscle coactivation after stroke using a myoelectric-computer interface: A pilot study

Zachary A. Wright, W. Zev Rymer, Marc W. Slutzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background. A significant factor in impaired movement caused by stroke is the inability to activate muscles independently. Although the pathophysiology behind this abnormal coactivation is not clear, reducing the coactivation could improve overall arm function. A myoelectric computer interface (MCI), which maps electromyographic signals to cursor movement, could be used as a treatment to help retrain muscle activation patterns. Objective. To investigate the use of MCI training to reduce abnormal muscle coactivation in chronic stroke survivors. Methods. A total of 5 healthy participants and 5 stroke survivors with hemiparesis participated in multiple sessions of MCI training. The level of arm impairment in stroke survivors was assessed using the upper-extremity portion of the Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (FMA-UE). Participants performed isometric activations of up to 5 muscles. Activation of each muscle was mapped to different directions of cursor movement. The MCI specifically targeted 1 pair of muscles in each participant for reduction of coactivation. Results. Both healthy participants and stroke survivors learned to reduce abnormal coactivation of the targeted muscles with MCI training. Out of 5 stroke survivors, 3 exhibited objective reduction in arm impairment as well (improvement in FMA-UE of 3 points in each of these patients). Conclusions. These results suggest that the MCI was an effective tool in directly retraining muscle activation patterns following stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Arm
  • Coactivation
  • EMG
  • Muscles
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Synergies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reducing abnormal muscle coactivation after stroke using a myoelectric-computer interface: A pilot study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this