Objective. In this study, the influences of externally imposed constant torque on the voluntary elbow movements of stroke and normal subjects were investigated quantitatively. Background. Muscle weakness, spasticity and incoordination are the major factors that interfere with stroke patient’s limb functions. Imposing external torque disturbance may worsen the motor performance. This experiment was designed to investigate the effects of small constant external torque on the performance of voluntary elbow movements. Methods. Tracking of a ramp-and-hold angle trajectory in the direction of extension was used as the main task for performance assessment. Each subject repeated the same tracking movement six times in each of three loading conditions: no, assistive or resistive loading. Five normal and six stroke subjects were recruited for this study. We used parameters extracted from movement trajectory and processed electromyograms as the performance indicators. Results. For normal subjects, there was no difference in the tracking performance in the three loading conditions. For stroke patients, the affected side had inferior performance to the healthy side in the free loading condition and the difference diminished in assistive and resistive loading conditions as the performance of the affected side improved. Integrated electromyograms of biceps or triceps did not show significant changes in different loading conditions. Conclusions. Small externally imposed constant torque, either resistive or assistive, may improve motor performance of affected elbows in stroke patients.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine