Motor Learning in Stroke

Robert M. Hardwick, Vikram A. Rajan, Amy J. Bastian, John W. Krakauer, Pablo A. Celnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Objective: Stroke rehabilitation assumes motor learning contributes to motor recovery, yet motor learning in stroke has received little systematic investigation. Here we aimed to illustrate that despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient should not be considered equal to an untrained patient with less impairment. Methods: We examined motor learning in healthy control participants and groups of stroke survivors with mild-to-moderate or moderate-to-severe motor impairment. Participants performed a series of isometric contractions of the elbow flexors to navigate an on-screen cursor to different targets, and trained to perform this task over a 4-day period. The speed-accuracy trade-off function (SAF) was assessed for each group, controlling for differences in self-selected movement speeds between individuals. Results: The initial SAF for each group was proportional to their impairment. All groups were able to improve their performance through skill acquisition. Interestingly, training led the moderate-to-severe group to match the untrained (baseline) performance of the mild-to-moderate group, while the trained mild-to-moderate group matched the untrained (baseline) performance of the controls. Critically, this did not make the two groups equivalent; they differed in their capacity to improve beyond this matched performance level. Specifically, the trained groups had reached a plateau, while the untrained groups had not. Conclusions: Despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient is not equal to an untrained patient with less impairment. This has important implications for decisions both on the focus of rehabilitation efforts for chronic stroke, as well as for returning to work and other activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-189
Number of pages12
JournalNeurorehabilitation and neural repair
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • hemiparesis
  • motor activity
  • motor control
  • motor disorders
  • motor impairment
  • motor skills
  • motor skills disorders
  • speed-accuracy trade-off

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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