Quantifying neural and non-neural components of wrist hyper-resistance after stroke: Comparing two instrumented assessment methods

Med Eng Phys. 2021 Dec;98:57-64. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2021.10.009. Epub 2021 Oct 24.


Patients with poor upper limb motor recovery after stroke are likely to develop increased resistance to passive wrist extension, i.e., wrist hyper-resistance. Quantification of the underlying neural and non-neural elastic components is of clinical interest. This cross-sectional study compared two methods: a commercially available device (NeuroFlexor®) with an experimental EMG-based device (Wristalyzer) in 43 patients with chronic stroke. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients (r) between components, modified Ashworth scale (MAS) and range of passive wrist extension (PRoM) were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. Neural as well as elastic components assessed by both devices were associated (r = 0.61, 95%CI: 0.38-0.77 and r = 0.53, 95%CI: 0.28-0.72, respectively). The neural component assessed by the NeuroFlexor® associated significantly with the elastic components of NeuroFlexor® (r = 0.46, 95%CI: 0.18-0.67) and Wristalyzer (r = 0.36, 95%CI: 0.06-0.59). The neural component assessed by the Wristalyzer was not associated with the elastic components of both devices. Neural and elastic components of both devices associated similarly with the MAS (r = 0.58, 95%CI: 0.34-0.75 vs. 0.49, 95%CI: 0.22-0.69 and r = 0.51, 95%CI: 0.25-0.70 vs. 0.30, 95%CI: 0.00-0.55); elastic components associated with PRoM (r = -0.44, 95%CI: -0.65- -0.16 vs. -0.74, 95%CI: -0.85- -0.57 for NeuroFlexor® and Wristalyzer respectively). Results demonstrate that both methods perform similarly regarding the quantification of neural and elastic wrist hyper-resistance components and have an added value when compared to clinical assessment with the MAS alone. The added value of EMG in the discrimination between neural and non-neural components requires further investigation.

Keywords: Assessment; Hyper-resistance; Muscle spasticity; Stroke; Upper extremity; Validity.