Date of this Version
2020 by the authors.
Automated wireless sensing of force dynamics during a visuomotor control task was used to rapidly assess residual motor function during finger pinch (right and left hand) and lower lip compression in a cohort of seven adult males with chronic, unilateral middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke with infarct confirmed by anatomic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A matched cohort of 25 neurotypical adult males served as controls. Dependent variables were extracted from digitized records of ‘ramp-and-hold’ isometric contractions to target levels (0.25, 0.5, 1, and 2 Newtons) presented in a randomized block design; and included force reaction time, peak force, and dF/dtmax associated with force recruitment, and end-point accuracy and variability metrics during the contraction hold-phase (mean, SD, criterion percentage ‘on-target’). Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVCF) was also assessed to establish the force operating range. Results based on linear mixed modeling (LMM, adjusted for age and handedness) revealed significant patterns of dissolution in fine force regulation among MCA stroke participants, especially for the contralesional thumb-index finger followed by the ipsilesional digits, and the lower lip. For example, the contralesional thumb-index finger manifest increased reaction time, and greater overshoot in peak force during recruitment compared to controls. Impaired force regulation among MCA stroke participants during the contraction hold-phase was associated with significant increases in force SD, and dramatic reduction in the ability to regulate force output within prescribed target force window (±5% of target). Impaired force regulation during contraction hold-phase was greatest in the contralesional hand muscle group, followed by significant dissolution in ipsilateral digits, with smaller effects found for lower lip. These changes in fine force dynamics were accompanied by large reductions in the MVCF with the LMM marginal means for contralesional and ipsilesional pinch forces at just 34.77% (15.93 N vs. 45.82 N) and 66.45% (27.23 N vs. 40.98 N) of control performance, respectively. Biomechanical measures of fine force and MVCF performance in adult stroke survivors provide valuable information on the profile of residual motor function which can help inform clinical treatment strategies and quantitatively monitor the efficacy of rehabilitation or neuroprotection strategies.