Volume and intramuscular fat content of upper extremity muscles in individuals with chronic hemiparetic stroke

Lindsay R.P. Garmirian, Ana Maria Acosta, Ryan Schmid, Jules P.A. Dewald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stroke survivors often experience upper extremity deficits that make activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, cooking and bathing difficult or impossible. Survivors experience paresis, the inability to efficiently and fully activate muscles, which combined with decreased use of the upper extremity, will lead to muscle atrophy and potentially an increase in intramuscular fat. Muscle atrophy has been linked to weakness post stroke and is an important contributor to upper extremity deficits. However, the extent of upper extremity atrophy post hemiparetic stroke is unknown and a better understanding of these changes is needed to inform the direction of intervention-based research. In this study, the volume of contractile tissue and intramuscular fat in the elbow and wrist flexors and extensors were quantified in the paretic and non-paretic upper limb using MRI and the Dixon technique for the first time. Total muscle volume (p≤0.0005) and contractile element volume (p≤0.0005) were significantly smaller in the paretic upper extremity, for all muscle groups studied. The average percent difference between limbs and across participants was 21.3% for muscle volume and 22.9% for contractile element volume. We also found that while the percent intramuscular fat was greater in the paretic limb compared to the non-paretic (p≤0.0005), however, the volume of intramuscular fat was not significantly different between upper limbs (p=0.231). The average volumes of intramuscular fat for the elbow flexors/extensors and wrist flexors/extensors were 28.1, 28.8 and 19.9, 8.8 cm3 in the paretic limb and 29.6, 27.7 and 19.7, 8.8 cm3 in the non-paretic limb. In short, these findings indicate a decrease in muscle volume and not an increase in intramuscular fat, which will contribute to the reduction in strength in the paretic upper limb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jul 2 2019


  • Atrophy
  • contractile element
  • Dixon technique
  • intramuscular fat
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle volume
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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