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UF research: For stroke recovery, two therapies better than one

and those getting no therapy.

Participants' impaired arms were tested before and after therapy using three tasks. In one measuring motor recovery, researchers counted the number of 1-inch blocks participants could grasp one at a time, move across a barrier and release over a minute's time. Reaction time was determined by how quickly they responded to a buzzer. Sustained muscle contraction force was charted by EMG.

During therapy, surface electrodes were attached to the forearms of people in both the bilateral- and unilateral-training groups that monitored their muscles' electrical activity as they attempted to voluntarily extend their wrists and fingers. The electrodes then transferred a small impulse to help participants complete the motion.

Participants started the test with equivalent motor capabilities. After four 90-minute training sessions over a two-week period, however, the group that used both arms coupled with electrical stimulation showed significant improvement in all three tests. They were able to move an average of seven more blocks, their median reaction times improved by 53 milliseconds and EMG showed they were able to sustain more forceful contractions than either the group that exercised only the only the affected arm or that received no training.

The group that trained with electrical stimulation using only their affected arms also fared considerably better than those receiving no therapy. Participants in the unilateral group were able to move an average of four more blocks and decreased their median reaction time by 14 milliseconds.

The group receiving no therapy moved one more block, but there was no other improvement.

"Seven blocks might not seem like a lot, but it's a multilevel task, so improvement by seven after such a short period of training time is rather dramatic." Cauraugh said. "Many of these movements we take for granted, but these people struggle incredibly to exec
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Contact: James Cauraugh
jcaura@hhp.ufl.edu
352 392 0584 x1273
University of Florida
6-Jun-2002


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