Effects of velocity on maximal torque production in poststroke hemiparesis

Muscle Nerve. 2004 Dec;30(6):732-42. doi: 10.1002/mus.20157.


Impaired torque production is a major physical impairment following stroke, and has been studied extensively in isometric conditions. However, functional use of a limb requires torque production during movement, and the effects of velocity on maximal torque production may be abnormally enhanced in the paretic limb. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of movement velocity on maximal torque production during isokinetic, concentric flexion and extension of the elbow in poststroke subjects. Three speeds were tested (30, 75, 120 deg/s) over a 100-deg range of motion. To control for strength variations between subjects and limbs, isokinetic torques were normalized by peak isometric torque. As flexion velocity increased, paretic limb torque decreased at a greater rate than in the unaffected limb. During extension, paretic limb torque was much lower than torque in the unaffected limb at all speeds. In both flexion and extension, the disparity between limbs in the constant-velocity torque-angle curves became more pronounced as velocity increased. Torque decreased 44% +/- 7% in flexion and 63% +/- 9% in extension as velocity increased from 30 to 120 deg/s, whereas the corresponding decreases in the unaffected limb were only 9% +/- 5% in flexion and 16% +/- 4% in extension. No electromyographic (EMG) abnormalities were observed during flexion. During extension, EMG data provided evidence for abnormally increased antagonist coactivation in brachioradialis and markedly reduced activation in triceps as potential contributors to the decreased extension torques. The finding that movement velocity produces large deficits in maximal torque might explain why functional use of the paretic limb is often impaired even though isometric strength appears adequate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Paresis / physiopathology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Torque