- The functional relevance of contralesional hemisphere in paretic arm motor performance in individuals with severe arm paresis was examined.
- TMS pulses were delivered to the contralesional primary motor and dorsal pre-motor areas.
- Various temporal and spatial characteristics were measured in conditions with and without TMS.
- Movement time was significantly slower with TMS to contralesional hemisphere.
- The study suggests functionally relevant role of contralesional hemisphere motor areas during paretic arm reaching movements in stroke survivors.
Stroke is highly prevalent and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability among American adults. Impaired movement (i.e. paresis) of the stroke-affected arm is a major contributor to post-stroke disability, yet the mechanisms of upper extremity motor recovery are poorly understood, particularly in severely impaired patients who lack hand function.
To address this problem, we examined the functional relevance of the contralesional hemisphere in paretic arm motor performance in individuals with severe arm paresis.
Twelve individuals with severe stroke-induced arm paresis (Upper Extremity Fugl-Meyer Assessment = 17.1 ± 8.5; maximum score = 66) participated in the study.
Participants performed a reaching response time task with their paretic arm. At varying time intervals following a ‘Go’ cue, a pair of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses were delivered to contralesional hemisphere primary motor (M1) or dorsal pre-motor cortex (PMd) to momentarily disrupt the pattern of neural firing. Response time components and hand-path characteristics were compared across the 2 sites for trials with and without TMS disruption. There was no significant effect of TMS disruption on overall Response time or Reaction time, but Movement time was significantly longer (i.e. slower) with disruption of the contralesional hemisphere (p = 0.015), regardless of which area was stimulated. Peak hand-path velocity and hand-path smoothness were also significantly lower (p = 0.005 and p < 0.0001, respectively) with TMS disruption of the contralesional hemisphere.
The data from this study provide evidence supporting a functionally relevant role of contralesional hemisphere motor areas in paretic arm reaching movements in individuals with severe post-stroke arm impairment.