Research shows how a stroke affects hand function
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Date posted: 15/06/2009
Posted by: Site Administration
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The Brain

A person whose hand function has been affected by a stroke can release an object more quickly when the affected arm is supported on a platform, but the support does not make it easier to grip the object, according to a new study. The study also found that active muscle-stretching exercises improved how quickly the stroke survivor could grip an object, but made release of the object more difficult. These findings show how a stroke affects hand function, and provide a road map for rehabilitation.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability among American adults. People who have suffered strokes often experience hand impairment, including significant delays in how long it takes to grip and release objects. This study included 10 people who had hand impairments from a severe stroke that had injured one hemisphere of the brain but not the other.

The study, "Delays in grip initiation and termination in persons with stroke: Effects of arm support and active muscle stretch exercise" appears in the online edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology. The authors are Na Jin Seo, William Z. Rymer and Derek G. Kamper, of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Dr. Rymer is also affiliated with Northwestern University, and Dr. Kamper with the Illinois Institute of Chicago.

In this study, the authors desired to quantify the time needed to:

* grip an object with the hand directly affected by the stroke (the paretic hand) and the non-paretic hand (the unaffected hand controlled by the uninjured hemisphere)
* release an object with both the paretic and non-paretic hands

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