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Exp Brain Res. 2015 Jun;233(6):1677-88. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4241-9. Epub 2015 Mar 21.

Altered phalanx force direction during power grip following stroke.

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Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 53211, US.


Many stroke survivors with severe impairment can grasp only with a power grip. Yet, little knowledge is available on altered power grip after stroke, other than reduced power grip strength. This study characterized stroke survivors' static power grip during 100 and 50 % maximum grip. Each phalanx force angular deviation from the normal direction and its contribution to total normal force was compared for 11 stroke survivors and 11 age-matched controls. Muscle activities and skin coefficient of friction were additionally compared for another 20 stroke and 13 age-matched control subjects. The main finding was that stroke survivors gripped with a 34 % greater phalanx force angular deviation of 19° ± 2° compared to controls of 14° ± 1° (p < .05). Stroke survivors' phalanx force angular deviation was closer to the 23° threshold of slippage between the phalanx and grip surface, which may explain increased likelihood of object dropping in stroke survivors. In addition, this altered phalanx force direction decreases normal grip force by tilting the force vector, indicating a partial role of phalanx force angular deviation in reduced grip strength post-stroke. Greater phalanx force angular deviation may biomechanically result from more severe underactivation of stroke survivors' first dorsal interosseous and extensor digitorum communis muscles compared to their flexor digitorum superficialis or somatosensory deficit. While stroke survivors' maximum power grip strength was approximately half of the controls, the distribution of their remaining strength over the fingers and phalanges did not differ, indicating evenly distributed grip force reduction over the entire hand.

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