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Stroke. 1999 May;30(5):949-55.

Impaired dexterity of the ipsilateral hand after stroke and the relationship to cognitive deficit.

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Division of Stroke Medicine, University of Nottingham,



Previous research has reported impaired hand function on the "unaffected" side after stroke, but its incidence, origins, and impact on rehabilitation remain unclear. This study investigated whether impairment of ipsilateral dexterity is common early after middle cerebral artery stroke and explored the relationship to cognitive deficit.


Thirty patients within 1 month of an infarct involving the parietal or posterior frontal lobe (15 left and 15 right hemisphere) used the ipsilateral hand in tests that simulated everyday hand functions. Performance was compared with that of healthy age-matched controls using the same hand. Standardized tests were used to assess apraxia, visuospatial ability, and aphasia.


All patients were able to complete the dexterity tests, but video analysis showed that performance was slow and clumsy compared with that of controls (P<0.001). Impairment was most severe after left hemisphere damage, and apraxia was a strong correlate of increased dexterity errors (P<0.01), whereas reduced ipsilateral grip strength correlated with slowing (P<0.05). The pattern of performance was different for patients with right hemisphere damage. Here there was no correlation between grip strength and slowing, while dexterity errors appeared to be due to visuospatial problems.


Subtle impairments in dexterity of the ipsilateral hand are common within 1 month of stroke. Ipsilateral sensorimotor losses may contribute to these impairments, but the major factor appears to be the presence of cognitive deficits affecting perception and control of action. The nature of these deficits varies with side of brain damage. The effect of impaired dexterity on functional outcome is not yet known.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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