January 2012

Muscle activation data suggest gap in poststroke gait rehabilitation

In the moment: Gait

Improving gait and coordination among stroke survivors should involve developing rehabilitation techniques that target abnormal muscle timing characteristics, suggests recent research from the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, OH.

The study, e-published in December by Rehabilitation Practice and Research, included nine healthy controls and 27 hemiparetic individuals at least one year poststroke who had persistent coordination and gait deficits. Investigators utilized electromyography to measure activation and deactivation latencies of knee flexor and extensor muscles during knee flexor motor tasks. They also evaluated gait using the six-minute-walk test and lower limb isolated joint movement control using the Fugl-Meyer assessment scale.

Stroke patients demonstrated significant delays in muscle activation and deactivation, inconsistent muscle activation latency, and abnormally decoupled agonist and antagonist activations, which were consistent with the group’s gait and coordination testing results.

The investigators noted that this abnormal muscle timing was evident even after conventional poststroke gait training and rehabilitation, highlighting the need for improved rehab techniques that address these issues. 

Source: Daly JJ, Roenigk K, Cheng R, Ruff RL. Abnormal leg muscle latencies and relationship to dyscoordination and walking disability after stroke. Rehabil Res Pract 2011;313980.

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