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Post-stroke deficits in the anticipatory control and bimanual coordination during naturalistic cooperative bimanual action.

BACKGROUND: Unilateral stroke leads to asymmetric deficits in movement performance; yet its effects on naturalistic bimanual actions, a key aspect of everyday functions, are understudied. Particularly, how naturalistic bimanual actions that require the two hands to cooperatively interact with each other while manipulating a single common object are planned, executed, and coordinated after stroke is not known. In the present study, we compared the anticipatory planning, execution, and coordination of force between individuals with left and right hemisphere stroke and neurotypical controls in a naturalistic bimanual common-goal task, lifting a box.

METHOD: Thirty-three individuals with chronic stroke (15 LCVA, 18 RCVA) and 8 neurotypical age-matched controls used both hands to lift a box fitted with force transducers under unweighted and weighted conditions. Primary dependent variables included measures of anticipation (peak grip and load force rate), execution (peak grip force, load force), and measures of within-hand (grip-load force coordination) and between-hand coordination (force rate cross-correlations). Primary analyses were performed using linear mixed effects modeling. Exploratory backward stepwise regression examined predictors of individual variability within participants with stroke.

RESULTS: Participants with stroke, particularly the RCVA group, showed impaired scaling of grip and load force rates with the addition of weight, indicating deficits in anticipatory control. While there were no group differences in peak grip force, participants with stroke showed significant impairments in peak load force and in grip-load force coordination with specific deficits in the evolution of load force prior to object lift-off. Finally, there were differences in spatial coordination of load force rates for participants with stroke, and especially the RCVA group, as compared to controls. Unimanual motor performance of the paretic arm and hemisphere of lesion (right hemisphere) were the key predictors of impairments in anticipatory planning of grip force and bimanual coordination among participants with stroke.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that individuals with stroke, particularly those with right hemisphere damage, have impairments in anticipatory planning and interlimb coordination of symmetric cooperative bimanual tasks.

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