Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 11, pp 3431–3443 | Cite as

Control of reach extent with the paretic and nonparetic arms after unilateral sensorimotor stroke II: planning and adjustments to control movement distance

  • Jill Campbell Stewart
  • James Gordon
  • Carolee J. WinsteinEmail author
Research Article


Nondisabled adults utilize both planning and feedback-based compensatory adjustments to control actual distance moved for skilled reach actions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether individuals post-stroke utilize planning and compensatory adjustments to control movement distance for reaches to targets that vary in distance. Individuals with mild to moderate motor impairment after stroke and nondisabled adults reached with both arms to targets presented at three distances (8, 16, 24 cm). The control of movement distance was compared between arms (control, nonparetic, and paretic) as to the use of planning (correlation of peak acceleration with movement distance), compensatory adjustments prior to peak velocity (correlation of time to peak velocity with movement distance), and compensatory adjustments after peak velocity (variance in movement distance accounted for by deterministic statistical model). The correlation of peak acceleration with movement distance for reaches with the paretic arm was significantly less than controls suggesting a decreased reliance on planning. Feedback-based compensatory adjustments, however, were present prior to and after peak velocity that assisted in achievement of movement distance in a similar manner as controls. Overall reach performance with the paretic arm was impaired, however, as evidenced by greater endpoint error and longer movement times than controls. The decreased use of planning to control movement distance after stroke suggests that the selected motor command was suboptimal in producing the desired movement outcome and may be related to an inability to generate muscle force quickly, lack of knowledge of arm dynamics due to decreased arm use, or lesion characteristics.


Stroke Upper extremity Reaching Motor planning 



The authors would like to thank Lee Johnson and Bruce Larson for assistance with modifications to the virtual reality system and Liang-Ching Tsai for figure development. The virtual reality system used in this study was provided by Innovative Sports Training, Inc. Funding for this research was provided in part through a Mary McMillan Doctoral Scholarship and a Promotion of Doctoral Studies II Scholarship from the Foundation for Physical Therapy and a grant from the California Physical Therapy Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill Campbell Stewart
    • 1
  • James Gordon
    • 2
  • Carolee J. Winstein
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Program in Physical Therapy, Department of Exercise ScienceUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the Ostrow School of DentistryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Neurology, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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