Sensorimotor integration in chronic stroke: Baseline differences and response to sensory training
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BACKGROUND: The integration of somatosensory information from the environment into the motor cortex to inform movement is essential for motor function. As motor deficits commonly persist into the chronic phase of stroke recovery, it is important to understand potential contributing factors to these deficits, as well as their relationship with motor function. To date the impact of chronic stroke on sensorimotor integration has not been thoroughly investigated. OBJECTIVES: The current study aimed to comprehensively examine the influence of chronic stroke on sensorimotor integration, and determine whether sensorimotor integration can be modified with an intervention. Further, it determined the relationship between neurophysiological measures of sensorimotor integration and motor deficits post-stroke. METHODS: Fourteen individuals with chronic stroke and twelve older healthy controls participated. Motor impairment and function were quantified in individuals with chronic stroke. Baseline neurophysiology was assessed using nerve-based measures (short- and long-latency afferent inhibition, afferent facilitation) and vibration-based measures of sensorimotor integration, which paired vibration with single and paired-pulse TMS techniques. Neurophysiological assessment was performed before and after a vibration-based sensory training paradigm to assess changes within these circuits. RESULTS: Vibration-based, but not nerve-based measures of sensorimotor integration were different in individuals with chronic stroke, as compared to older healthy controls, suggesting that stroke differentially impacts integration of specific types of somatosensory information. Sensorimotor integration was behaviourally relevant in that it related to both motor function and impairment post-stroke. Finally, sensory training modulated sensorimotor integration in individuals with chronic stroke and controls. CONCLUSION: Sensorimotor integration is differentially impacted by chronic stroke based on the type of afferent feedback. However, both nerve-based and vibration-based measures relate to motor impairment and function in individuals with chronic stroke.
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