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Urra, O., Casals, A., Jané, R., (2015). The impact of visual feedback on the motor control of the upper-limb Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 3945-3948

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability with upper-limb hemiparesis being one of the most frequent consequences. Given that stroke only affects the paretic arm's control structure (the set of synergies and activation vectors needed to perform a movement), we propose that the control structure of the non-affected arm can serve as a physiological reference to rehabilitate the paretic arm. However, it is unclear how rehabilitation can effectively tune the control structure of a patient. The use of Visual Feedback (VF) is recommended to boost stroke rehabilitation, as it is able to positively modify neural mechanisms and improve motor performance. Thus, in this study we investigate whether VF can effectively modify the control structure of the upper-limb. We asked six neurologically intact subjects to perform a complete upper-limb rehabilitation routine comprised of 12 movements in absence and presence of VF. Our results indicate that VF significantly increases interlimb similarity both in terms of synergies and activation coefficients. However, the magnitude of improvement depended upon each subject. In general, VF brings the control structure of the nondominant side closer to the control structure of dominant side, suggesting that VF modifies the control structure towards more optimized motor patterns. This is especially interesting because stroke mainly affects the activation coefficients of patients and because it has been shown that the control of the affected side resembles that of the nondominant side. In conclusion, VF may enhance motor performance by effectively tuning the control-structure. Notably, this finding offers new insights to design improved stroke rehabilitation.

Keywords: Bars, Biomedical engineering, Electrodes, Electromyography, Mirrors, Muscles, Visualization


Urra, O., Casals, A., Jané, R., (2014). Synergy analysis as a tool to design and assess an effective stroke rehabilitation Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Chicago, USA) , 3550-3553

The poor rehabilitation success rate, including the cases of ineffective and detrimental adaptations, make stroke a leading cause of disability. Thus, it is essential to recognize the mechanisms driving healthy motor recovery to improve such rate. Stroke alters the Synergy Architecture (SA), the modular muscle control system. So SA analysis may constitute a powerful tool to design and assess rehabilitation procedures. However, current impairment scales do not consider the patient's neuromuscular state. To gain insights into this hypothesis, we recorded multiple myoelectric signals from upper-limb muscles, in healthy subjects, while executing a set of common rehabilitation exercises. We found that SA reveals optimized motor control strategies and the positive effects of the use of visual feedback (VF) on motor control. Furthermore we demonstrate that the right and left arm's SA share the basic structure within the same subject, so we propose using the unaffected limb's SA as a reference motion pattern to be reached through rehabilitation.

Keywords: Bars, Electromyography, Motor drives, Neuromuscular, Vectors, Visualization