Survivors of Chronic Stroke Experience Continued Impairment of Dexterity But Not Strength in the Nonparetic Upper Limb

Alexander J. Barry*, Kristen M. Triandafilou, Mary Ellen Stoykov, Naveen Bansal, Elliot J. Roth, Derek G. Kamper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the performance of the less affected upper limb in people with stroke compared with normative values. To examine less affected upper limb function in those whose prestroke dominant limb became paretic and those whose prestroke nondominant limb became paretic. Design: Cohort study of survivors of chronic stroke (7.2±6.7y post incident). Setting: The study was performed at a freestanding academic rehabilitation hospital. Participants: Survivors of chronic stroke (N=40) with severe hand impairment (Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment rating of 2-3 on Stage of Hand) participated in the study. In 20 participants the prestroke dominant hand (DH) was tested (nondominant hand [NH] affected by stroke), and in 20 participants the prestroke NH was tested (DH affected by stroke). Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure: Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test. Data from survivors of stroke were compared with normative age- and sex-matched data from neurologically intact individuals. Results: When combined, DH and NH groups performed significantly worse on fine motor tasks with their nonparetic hand relative to normative data (P<.007 for all measures). Even the participants who continued to use their prestroke DH as their primary hand after the stroke demonstrated reduced fine motor skills compared with normative data. In contrast, grip strength was not significantly affected in either group of survivors of stroke (P>.140). Conclusions: Survivors of stroke with severe impairment of the paretic limb continue to present significant upper extremity impairment in their nominally nonparetic limb even years after stroke. This phenomenon was observed regardless of whether the DH or NH hand was primarily affected. Because this group of survivors of stroke is especially dependent on the nonparetic limb for performing functional tasks, our results suggest that the nonparetic upper limb should be targeted for rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1170-1175
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Functional laterality
  • Recovery of function
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Stroke rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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