Reducing the Impact of Shoulder Abduction Loading on the Classification of Hand Opening and Grasping in Individuals with Poststroke Flexion Synergy

Yiyun Lan, Jun Yao, Julius P.A. Dewald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Application of neural machine interface in individuals with chronic hemiparetic stroke is regarded as a great challenge, especially for classification of the hand opening and grasping during a functional upper extremity movement such as reach-to-grasp. The overall accuracy of classifying hand movements, while actively lifting the paretic arm, is subject to a significant reduction compared to the accuracy when the arm is fully supported. Such a reduction is believed to be due to the expression of flexion synergy, which couples shoulder abduction (SABD) with elbow/wrist and finger flexion, and is common in up to 60% of the stroke population. Little research has been done to develop methods to reduce the impact of flexion synergy on the classification of hand opening and grasping. In this study, we proposed a novel approach to classify hand opening and grasping in the context of the flexion synergy using a wavelet coherence-based filter. We first identified the frequency ranges where the coherence between the SABD muscle and wrist/finger flexion muscles is significant in each participant, and then removed the synergy-induced electromyogram (EMG) component with a subject-specific and muscle-specific coherence-based filter. The new approach was tested in 21 stroke individuals with moderate to severe motor impairments. Employing the filter, 14 participants gained improvement in classification accuracy with a range of 0.1 to 14%, while four showed 0.3 to 1.2% reduction. The remaining three participants were excluded from comparison due to the lack of significant coherence, thus no filters were applied. The improvement in classification accuracy is significant (p = 0.017) when the SABD loading equals 50% of the maximal torque. Our findings suggest that the coherence-based filters can reduce the impact of flexion synergy by removing the synergy-induced EMG component and have the potential to improve the overall classification accuracy of hand movements in individuals with poststroke flexion synergy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Jun 30 2017


  • classification
  • coherence
  • flexion synergy
  • hand movements
  • machine learning
  • neural machine interface
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Histology


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