Arm path fragmentation and spatiotemporal features of hand reaching in healthy subjects and stroke patients

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2010;2010:5242-5. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2010.5626297.


Arm motion in healthy humans is characterized by smooth and relatively short paths. The current study focused on 3D reaching in stroke patients. Sixteen right-hemiparetic stroke patients and 8 healthy adults performed 42 reaching movements towards 3 visual targets located at an extended arm distance. Performance was assessed in terms of spatial and temporal features of the movement; i.e., hand path, arm posture and smoothness. Differences between groups and within subjects were hypothesized for spatial and temporal aspects of reaching under the assumption that both are independent. As expected, upper limb motion of patients was characterized by longer and jerkier hand paths and slower speeds. Assessment of the number of sub-movements within each movement did not clearly discriminate between groups. Principal component analyses revealed specific clusters of either spatial or temporal measures, which accounted for a large proportion of the variance in patients but not in healthy controls. These findings support the notion of a separation between spatial and temporal features of movement. Stroke patients may fail to integrate the two aspects when executing reaching movements towards visual targets.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors