Limb Heaviness: A Perceptual Phenomenon Associated With Poststroke Fatigue?

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2016 May;30(4):360-2. doi: 10.1177/1545968315597071. Epub 2015 Jul 17.


Poststroke fatigue and limb heaviness are 2 perceptual problems that commonly occur after stroke. Previous work suggests that poststroke fatigue may be related to altered sensorimotor processing whereas limb heaviness is often considered an association of muscle weakness. To address the hypothesis that the perception of limb heaviness may also be a problem of altered sensorimotor control, we investigated whether it was more closely related to poststroke fatigue or muscle weakness. In 69 chronic stroke survivors, we found that those with high perceived limb heaviness (31 individuals) also reported significantly higher levels of fatigue (4.8/7) than those with no perceived limb heaviness (38 individuals, fatigue score = 2.68/7), but there was no difference in weakness between the 2 groups. This intriguing finding is discussed in relation to effort perception and sensory processing. The association between limb heaviness and poststroke fatigue and a dissociation from muscle weakness gives rise to the hypothesis that limb heaviness maybe a centrally arising sensorimotor disorder.

Keywords: limb heaviness; poststroke fatigue; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Extremities / physiopathology*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology*