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Postural arm control following cervical spinal cord injury.

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Department of Physiology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


This study used estimates of dynamic endpoint stiffness to quantify postural arm stability following cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) and to investigate how this stability was affected by functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS). Measurements were made in the horizontal plane passing through the glenohumeral joint on three SCI-impaired arms, which ranged in functional level from a weak C5 to a strong C6. Endpoint stiffness, which characterizes the relationship between externally imposed hand displacements and the resultant forces, was estimated during the application of planar, stochastic perturbations to each arm. These estimates were used in conjunction with voluntary endpoint force measurements to quantify stability and strength during voluntary contractions and during voluntary contractions in the presence of triceps FNS. The primary findings were: 1) the differences in the force generating capabilities of these arms were due primarily to differences in shoulder strength; 2) measurements of strength alone could not be used to predict arm stability; and 3) triceps FNS improved postural arm stability for all tested conditions. These results suggest strategies for improved control of FNS systems designed to restore arm function following cervical SCI and underscore the importance of examining the effects of FNS on both strength and stability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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