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Title: Neuromechanical measurement of motor impairments in relation to upper limb activity limitations after stroke
Author: Turk, R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 7969
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2011
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Loss of upper-limb function is a problem following stroke. Recent research has led to the emergence of new treatments but progress is hampered by lack of reliable objective measures of impairment, and understanding of the underlying impairment mechanisms associated with loss and recovery of functional activity. The aim of this research was to identify, using neuromechanical measurement methods, inter-relationships between motor impairments, and correlates of motor impairments with functional activity limitation in the upper limb of acute and chronic stroke survivors. An instrumented rig has been developed to measure impairments: muscle weakness, active range of movement, motor control accuracy in rhythmic and discrete tracking tasks, spasticity, coactivation, contracture and non-neural stiffness. In pilot studies, signal processing and data analysis techniques have been used to generate novel, clinically and physiologically relevant indices to quantify impairments. In a Main Study, 13 older impaired participants in the acute phase post-stroke, 13 in the chronic phase 14 age-matched unimpaired participants underwent rig assessments and performed a test of upper limb activity. A sub-group of impaired participants were tested on two days for test-retest reliability evaluation. Statistical tests have confirmed the validity of the impairments to distinguish between acute and chronic patients and unimpaired individuals, except coactivation during discrete movements and non-neural stiffness. Repeatability coefficients for the active test indices have been presented as benchmark values for use in future trials. The muscle activation indices showed lower repeatability which highlights the challenge of using these to measure change over time. The impairments that contributed to lower motor control accuracy were reduced extensor weakness, delayed extensor onset timing, coactivation and smaller extension AROM and PROM; coactivation was more strongly associated with motor control accuracy than with spasticity or stiffness. The most important contributors to functional activity in the acute group was extensor weakness, and in the chronic group was motor control accuracy and coactivation (rhythmic task). Contracture was important contributor in both groups, and was associated with weakness and loss of active range of movement rather than spasticity. The findings support the notion that rehabilitation strategies should focus on increasing muscle strength and prevention of contracture. However, assessment of more complex impairments like motor control accuracy and coactivation may be crucial to better target therapy, especially in the later phases post-stroke.
Supervisor: Simpson, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology