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Disabil Rehabil. 2018 Apr;40(8):912-916. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1280092. Epub 2017 Feb 6.

Bilateral movements increase sustained extensor force in the paretic arm.

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a Laboratory for Rehabilitation Neuroscience , University of Florida , Gainesville , FL , USA.
b Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Motor Behavior Laboratory , University of Florida , Gainesville , FL , USA.



Muscle weakness in the extensors poststroke is a common motor impairment. Unfortunately, research is unclear on whether bilateral movements increase extensor force production in the paretic arm. This study investigated sustained force production while stroke individuals maximally extended their wrist and fingers on their paretic arm. Specifically, we determined isometric force production in three conditions: (a) unilateral paretic arm, (b) unilateral nonparetic arm, and (c) bilateral (both arms executing the same movement simultaneously).


Seventeen chronic stroke patients produced isometric sustained force by executing wrist and fingers extension in unilateral and bilateral contraction conditions. Mean force, force variability (coefficient of variation), and signal-to-noise ratio were calculated for each contraction condition.


Analysis of two-way (Arm × Type of Condition: 2 × 2; Paretic or Nonparetic Arm × Unilateral or Bilateral Conditions) within-subjects ANOVAs revealed that the bilateral condition increased sustained force in the paretic arm, but reduced sustained force in the nonparetic arm. Further, although the paretic arm exhibited more force variability and less signal-to-noise ratio than the nonparetic arm during a unilateral condition, there were no differences when participants simultaneously executed isometric contractions with both arms.


Our unique findings indicate that bilateral contractions transiently increased extensor force in the paretic arm. Implications for Rehabilitation Bilateral movements increased isometric wrsit extensor force in paretic arms and redcued force in nonparetic arms versus unilateral movements. Both paretic and nonparetic arms produced similar force variability and signal-to-noise ratio during bilateral movements. Increased sustained force in the paretic arm during the bilateral condition indicates that rehabilitation protocols based on bilateral movements may be beneficial for functional recovery.


Chronic stroke; bilateral contraction; paretic arm; sustained force; wrist extension

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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