Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 234, Issue 8, pp 2391–2402 | Cite as

Deficits in motor abilities for multi-finger force control in hemiparetic stroke survivors

  • Yushin Kim
  • Woo-Sub KimEmail author
  • Kyung Koh
  • BumChul Yoon
  • Diane L. Damiano
  • Jae Kun ShimEmail author
Research Article


The ability to control redundant motor effectors is one of hallmarks in human motor control, and the topic has been studied extensively over several decades since the initial inquiries proposed by Nicholi Bernstein. However, our understanding of the influence of stroke on the control of redundant motor systems is very limited. This study aimed to investigate the effect of stroke-related constraints on multi-finger force control abilities in a visuomotor task. Impaired (IH) and less-impaired hands (LH) of 19 hemiparetic stroke survivors and 19 age-matched control subjects were examined. Each hand repeatedly produced isometric forces to match a target force of 5 N shown on a computer screen using all four fingers. The hierarchical variability decomposition (HVD) model was used to separate force-matching errors (motor performance) into task-relevant measures (accuracy, steadiness, and reproducibility). Task-irrelevant sources of variability in individual finger force profiles within and between trials (flexibility and multiformity) were also quantified. The IH in the stroke survivors showed deficits in motor performance attributed mainly to lower accuracy and reproducibility as compared to control hands (p < 0.05). The LH in stroke survivors showed lower reproducibility and both hands in stroke also had higher multiformity than the control hands (p < 0.05). The findings from our HVD model suggest that accuracy, reproducibility, and multiformity were mainly impaired during force-matching task in the stroke survivors. The specific motor deficits identified through the HVD model with the new conceptual framework may be considered as critical factors for scientific investigation on stroke and evidence-based rehabilitation of this population.


Stroke Motor activity Fingers Psychomotor performance Nervous system Functional capacity impairment 



We thank Taeyoung Kim, PT, M.Sc. for assistance with data collection. The research was funded in part by National Research Foundation (NRF-2013004812) of Korea and the Translational Research Center for Rehabilitation Robots, Korea National Rehabilitation Center, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Korea (NRCTR-EX15007) and by the Intramural Research Program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. This research was also supported by a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI14C1155).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Functional Applied Biomechanics Section, Department of Rehabilitation MedicineNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineKorea University Guro HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physical TherapyKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of EngineeringKyung Hee UniversityYong-InSouth Korea

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