Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 289–300 | Cite as

Interjoint coordination dynamics during reaching in stroke

  • M. C. Cirstea
  • A. B. Mitnitski
  • A. G. Feldman
  • M. F. Levin
Research Article


A technique is described that characterizes the dynamics of the interjoint coordination of arm reaching movements in healthy subjects (n=10) and in patients who had sustained a left-sided cerebrovascular accident (n=18). All participants were right-handed. Data from the affected right arm of patients with stroke were compared with those from the right arm of healthy subjects. Seated subjects made 25 pointing movements in a single session. Movements were made from an initial target located ipsilaterally to the right arm beside the body, to a final target located in front of the subject in the contralateral arm workspace. Kinematic data from the finger, wrist, elbow, both shoulders and sternum were recorded in three dimensions at 200 Hz with an optical tracking system. Analysis of interjoint coordination was based on the patterns of temporal delay between rotations at two adjacent joints (shoulder and elbow). The data were reduced to a single graph (Temporal Coordination or TC index) integrating the essential temporal characteristics of joint movement (the angular displacements, velocities and timing). TC segments, duration and amplitude, were analysed. The analysis was sensitive to the differences in interjoint coordination between healthy subjects and patients with arm motor deficits. In patients, the temporal coordination between elbow and shoulder movements was disrupted from the middle to the end of the reach. More specifically, in mid-reach, all patients had difficulty coordinating elbow flexion with shoulder horizontal adduction. In addition, patients with severe arm hemiparesis had difficulty changing elbow movement direction from flexion to extension and in coordinating this change with shoulder movement. At the end of the reach, patients with severe hemiparesis had deficits in the execution of elbow extension while all patients had impaired coordination of elbow extension and shoulder horizontal adduction. In addition, active ranges of joint motions were significantly decreased in the stroke compared to the healthy subjects. Finally, TC analysis revealed significant relationships between specific aspects of disrupted interjoint coordination and the level of motor impairment, suggesting that it may be a useful tool in the identification of specific movement coordination deficits in neurological impaired populations that can be targeted in treatment for arm motor recovery.


Arm reaching Interjoint coordination Velocity-angle diagrams Stroke Hemiplegia 



The authors acknowledge financial support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Fonds de la recherche en Sante du Quebec (FRSQ). M.C.C. was supported by the Canadian Stroke Network.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Cirstea
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. B. Mitnitski
    • 1
    • 3
  • A. G. Feldman
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. F. Levin
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR)Rehabilitation Institute of MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Neurological Sciences Research CentreUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Biomedical EngineeringÉcole Polytechnique de MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.School of RehabilitationUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  5. 5.CRIR, IRM siteInstitut de Réadaptation de MontréalMontréalCanada

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