Springer Nature

Relationship between gait quality measures and modular neuromuscular control parameters in chronic post-stroke individuals

Posted on 2021-04-08 - 03:40
Abstract Background Recent evidence suggests that disinhibition and/or hyperexcitation of the brainstem descending pathways and intraspinal motor network diffuse spastic synergistic activation patterns after stroke. This results in simplified or merged muscle sets (i.e., muscle modules or synergies) compared to non-impaired individuals and this leads to poor walking performance. However, the relations of how these neuromuscular deficits influence gait quality (e.g., symmetry or natural walking patterns) are still unclear. The objective of this exploratory study was to investigate the relations of modular neuromuscular framework and gait quality measures in chronic stroke individuals. Methods Sixteen chronic post-stroke individuals participated in this study. Full lower body three-dimensional kinematics and electromyography (EMG) were concurrently measured during overground walking at a comfortable speed. We first examined changes in gait quality measures across the number of muscle modules using linear regression model. Then, a stepwise multiple regression was used to investigate the optimal combination of the neuromuscular parameters that associates with gait quality measures. Results We observed that subjects who had a lower number of muscle modules revealed reduced function (i.e., speed) and greater asymmetry in the kinematic parameters including limb length, footpath area, knee flexion/extension, and hip abduction/adduction (all p < 0.05). We also found that the combination of input variables from the modular neuromuscular control framework significantly associated with gait quality measures (average $${R}^{2}=42.5\mathrm{\%}$$ R 2 = 42.5 % ). Those variables included variability accounted for ( $$VAF$$ VAF ) information from the muscle modules and area under the EMG envelope curves of the quadriceps (i.e., rectus femoris and vastus lateralis) and tibialis anterior muscles. Conclusions The results suggest that there exists a significant correlation between the neuromuscular control framework and the gait quality measures. This study helps to understand the underlying mechanism of disturbances in gait quality and provides insight for a more comprehensive outcome measure to assess gait impairment after stroke.


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