Influence of Gravity Compensation on Muscle Activation Patterns During Different Temporal Phases of Arm Movements of Stroke Patients

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Background. Arm support to help compensate for the effects of gravity may improve functional use of the shoulder and elbow during therapy after stroke, but gravity compensation may alter motor control. Objective. To obtain quantitative information on how gravity compensation influences muscle activation patterns during functional, 3-dimensional reaching movements. Methods. Eight patients with mild hemiparesis performed 2 sets of repeated reach and retrieval movements, with and without unloading the arm, using a device that acted at the elbow and forearm to compensate for gravity. Electromyographic (EMG) patterns of 6 upper extremity muscles were compared during elbow and shoulder joint excursions with and without gravity compensation. Results. Movement performance was similar with and without gravity compensation. Smooth rectified EMG (SRE) values were decreased from 25% to 50% during movements with gravity compensation in 5 out of 6 muscles. The variation of SRE values across movement phases did not differ across conditions. Conclusions. Gravity compensation did not affect general patterns of muscle activation in this sample of stroke patients, probably since they had adequate function to complete the task without arm support. Gravity compensation did facilitate active arm movement excursions without impairing motor control. Gravity compensation may be a valuable modality in conventional or robot-aided therapy to increase the intensity of training for mildly impaired patients.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)478-485
Number of pages8
JournalNeurorehabilitation and neural repair
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Stroke rehabilitation • Upper extremity • Muscle activity • Motor control • Arm support
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • EWI-17198
  • Arm support
  • IR-61649
  • Muscle activity
  • Upper extremity
  • METIS-257329
  • Motor control

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