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J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jul;106(1):280-90. doi: 10.1152/jn.00657.2010. Epub 2011 May 11.

Neuromuscular strategies in the paretic leg during curved walking in individuals post-stroke.

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School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Reduced flexibility over the neuromotor control of paretic leg muscles may impact the extent to which individuals post-stroke modulate their muscle activity patterns to walk along curved paths. The purpose of this study was to compare lower-limb movements and neuromuscular strategies in the paretic leg of individuals with stroke with age-matched controls during curved walking. Participants walked at their preferred walking velocity along four different paths of increasing curvature, while lower-limb kinematics and muscle activity were recorded. A second group of able-bodied individuals walked along the four paths, matching the walking speed of the stroke group. The stroke group showed reduced lower-limb joint excursion and disordered modulation of foot pressure during curved walking, accompanied by reduced modulation of muscle activity patterns. In the inner leg of the curve in control subjects, the posteromedial muscles (medial gastrocnemius and medial hamstrings) showed decreased electromyographic amplitude as path curviture increased. Conversely, activity of the posterolateral musculature of the outer leg was decreased with increasing path curvature. Activity in the tibialis anterior and gluteus medius was also modulated with path curvature. However, in the stroke group, we found reduced modulation of muscle activity in the paretic leg during curved walking. The extent of modulation was also associated with the level of physical impairment due to stroke. The results of this study provide further knowledge about neuromuscular control of locomotor adaptations post-stroke.

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