Objective: The main purposes of this study were to examine, in subjects with chronic hemiparesis following a stroke: (i) the correlations between tests of muscle tone, stiffness, spasticity, paresis and co-contraction, and (ii) the correlations of these tests and measurements of impairment to upper extremity motor performance.
Design: Prospective, cross-sectional, correlation matrix using sample of convenience.
Subjects: Thirteen subjects with chronic hemiparesis secondary to a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) were tested.
Methods: Subjects were assessed using the Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity Motor Assessment, modified Ashworth scale, deep tendon reflexes, and muscle characteristics that included quantification of muscle stiffness, paresis and co-contraction during a voluntary reaching task and during passive movements. Surface electromyographic and myotonometric muscle stiffness data were obtained during movement trials.
Results: Biceps and triceps brachii muscle paresis and excess biceps brachii co-contraction during voluntary reaching had the highest correlations to decreased motor performance. Muscle tone measurements did not have significant correlations to upper extremity performance.
Conclusion: Paresis of elbow flexors and extensors and excess co-contraction of the biceps brachii during voluntary reaching appear to be most predictive of upper extremity motor performance. Results are discussed in relation to the specific challenges these findings pose for spastic paresis clinical management.