Background. High-intensity, variable stepping training can improve walking speed in individuals poststroke, although neuromuscular strategies used to achieve faster speeds are unclear. We evaluated changes in joint kinetics and neuromuscular coordination following such training; movement strategies consistent with intact individuals were considered evidence of recovery and abnormal strategies indicative of compensation.
Methods. A total of 15 individuals with stroke (duration: 23 ± 30 months) received ≤40 sessions of high-intensity stepping in variable contexts (tasks and environments). Lower-extremity kinetics and electromyographic (EMG) activity were collected prior to (BSL) and following (POST) training at peak treadmill speeds and speeds matched to peak BSL (MATCH). Primary measures included positive (concentric) joint and total limb powers, measures of interlimb (paretic/nonparetic powers) and intralimb compensation (hip/ankle or knee/ankle powers), and muscle synergies calculated using nonnegative matrix factorization.
Results. Gains in most positive paretic and nonparetic joint powers were observed at higher speeds at POST, with decreased interlimb compensation and limited changes in intralimb compensation. There were very few differences in kinetic measures between BSL to MATCH conditions. However, the number of neuromuscular synergies increased significantly following training at both POST and MATCH conditions, indicating gains from training rather than altered speeds. Despite these results, speed improvements were associated primarily with changes in nonparetic versus paretic powers.
Conclusion. Gains in locomotor function were accomplished by movement strategies consistent with both recovery and compensation. These and other data indicate that both strategies may be necessary to maximize walking function in patients poststroke.
via Compensation or Recovery? Altered Kinetics and Neuromuscular Synergies Following High-Intensity Stepping Training Poststroke – Marzieh M. Ardestani, Catherine R. Kinnaird, Christopher E. Henderson, T. George Hornby, 2019