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Stroke. 2006 Jun;37(6):1552-5. Epub 2006 Apr 27.

Motor cortex activation during treatment may predict therapeutic gains in paretic hand function after stroke.

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  • 1Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



Functional brain imaging after stroke offers insight into motor network adaptations. This exploratory study examined whether motor cortical activation captured during arm-focused therapy can predict paretic hand functional gains.


Eight hemiparetic patients had serial functional MRI (fMRI) while performing a pinch task before, midway, and after 2 weeks of constraint-induced therapy. The Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) was performed before and after intervention.


There was a linear reduction in ipsilateral (contralesional) primary motor (M1) activation (voxel counts) across time. The midpoint M1 Laterality Index anticipated post-therapeutic change in time to perform the WMFT. The change in ipsilateral M1 voxel count (pre- to mid-) correlated with the change in mean WMFT time (pre- to post-).


The relationship between brain activation during treatment and functional gains suggests a use for serial fMRI in predicting the success and optimal duration for a focused therapeutic intervention.

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