Agonist and Antagonist Activity During Voluntary Upper-Limb Movement in Patients with Stroke
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Forty-four patients with hemiplegia following stroke and 10 nondisabled subjects were studied to examine the contributions inadequate motor unit recruitment and co-contraction attributable to impaired antagonist inhibition play in the movement disorder of the hemiplegic arm. Electromyographic data were recorded from agonist and antagonist muscles while subjects attempted six specified tasks. Data from subjects who could complete the tasks were compared with those who could not complete the tasks. Differences between the two groups were found in the electromyographic data obtained from the agonist muscles. Electromyographic values were consistently and significantly lower in patients who were unable to complete the tasks than in patients who were able to complete the tasks. In the antagonist muscles, a significant difference was noted only once; in this case, the EMG values were again lower in the group of patients who were unable to complete the task. Inadequate recruitment of agonists, not increased activity in the antagonists, was a consistent finding in patients who were unable to carry out the movement tasks. This study theoretically supports aiming treatment efforts at improving motoneuron recruitment rather than reducing activity in antagonists while retraining arm function.
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