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Front Neurol. 2015 May 27;6:119. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00119. eCollection 2015.

High-Intensity, Unilateral Resistance Training of a Non-Paretic Muscle Group Increases Active Range of Motion in a Severely Paretic Upper Extremity Muscle Group after Stroke.

Author information

1
Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO , USA.
2
Georgetown University Medical Center, MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital , Washington, DC , USA.
3
Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO , USA.
4
Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO , USA ; Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO , USA ; Program in Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis, MO , USA.

Abstract

Limited rehabilitation strategies are available for movement restoration when paresis is too severe following stroke. Previous research has shown that high-intensity resistance training of one muscle group enhances strength of the homologous, contralateral muscle group in neurologically intact adults. How this "cross education" phenomenon might be exploited to moderate severe weakness in an upper extremity muscle group after stroke is not well understood. The primary aim of this study was to examine adaptations in force-generating capacity of severely paretic wrist extensors resulting from high intensity, dynamic contractions of the non-paretic wrist extensors. A secondary, exploratory aim was to probe neural adaptations in a subset of participants from each sample using a single-pulse, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol. Separate samples of neurologically intact controls (n = 7) and individuals ≥4 months post stroke (n = 6) underwent 16 sessions of training. Following training, one-repetition maximum of the untrained wrist extensors in the control group and active range of motion of the untrained, paretic wrist extensors in the stroke group were significantly increased. No changes in corticospinal excitability, intracortical inhibition, or interhemispheric inhibition were observed in control participants. Both stroke participants who underwent TMS testing, however, exhibited increased voluntary muscle activation following the intervention. In addition, motor-evoked potentials that were unobtainable prior to the intervention were readily elicited afterwards in a stroke participant. Results of this study demonstrate that high-intensity resistance training of a non-paretic upper extremity muscle group can enhance voluntary muscle activation and force-generating capacity of a severely paretic muscle group after stroke. There is also preliminary evidence that corticospinal adaptations may accompany these gains.

KEYWORDS:

cross education; electrophysiology; rehabilitation; resistance training; stroke; upper extremity

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