Imbalance of corticomotor excitability between the paretic and nonparetic limbs has been associated with the extent of upper extremity motor recovery post-stroke, is greatly influenced by specific testing conditions such as the presence or absence of volitional muscle activation, and may vary across muscle groups. However, despite its clinical importance, post-stroke corticomotor drive to lower extremity muscles has not been thoroughly investigated. Additionally, while conventional gait rehabilitation strategies for stroke survivors focus on paretic limb foot drop and dorsiflexion impairments, most contemporary literature has indicated that paretic limb propulsion and plantarflexion impairments are the most significant limiters to post-stroke walking function. The purpose of this study was to compare corticomotor excitability of the dorsi- and plantarflexor muscles during resting and active conditions in individuals with good and poor post-stroke walking recovery and in neurologically-intact controls. We found that plantarflexor muscles showed reduced corticomotor symmetry between paretic and nonparetic limbs compared to dorsiflexor muscles in individuals with poor post-stroke walking recovery during active muscle contraction but not during rest. Reduced plantarflexor corticomotor symmetry during active muscle contraction was a result of reduced corticomotor drive to the paretic muscles and enhanced corticomotor drive to the nonparetic muscles when compared to the neurologically-intact controls. These results demonstrate that atypical corticomotor drive exists in both the paretic and nonparetic lower limbs and implicate greater severity of corticomotor impairments to plantarflexor versus dorsiflexor muscles during muscle activation in stroke survivors with poor walking recovery.
- transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Copyright © 2016, Journal of Neurophysiology