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Stella Maris Michaelsen, Eliane C. Magdalon and Mindy F. Levin

Decreased dexterity in chronic stroke survivors results in diminished hand use and impacts quality of life. We studied reach-and-grasp coordination and aperture scaling during reach to grasp using different grasp types and object sizes (33–55mm). Chronic stroke survivors with hand paresis and controls grasped cylinders with the whole hand or fingertips. Three stroke subjects with more severe hand paresis had disrupted reach/grasp coordination and used compensatory strategies for arm transport and/or grasping. Nine stroke subjects with less severe paresis scaled aperture to cylinder diameter (p < .001) but had slower movements, used excessive trunk movement, and had prolonged deceleration times. Relative time to maximal grip aperture (TMA) occurred earlier in stroke subjects and in both groups when grasping the small cylinder (p < .002). Despite deficits in reach and grasp, chronic stroke survivors with mild to moderate hand paresis may retain grip aperture scaling to object size for different grasp types.

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Ksenia I. Ustinova, Valery M. Goussev, Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Mindy F. Levin

To determine how arm movements influence postural sway in the upright position after stroke, interactions between arm, trunk, and center of pressure (CoP) displacements in the sagittal direction were investigated in participants with hemiparesis and healthy subjects. Participants swung both arms sagittally in either of 2 directions (in-phase, anti-phase) and at 2 speeds (preferred, fast) while standing on separate force plates. Variables measured included amplitude and frequency of arm swinging, shoulder and trunk range of motion, CoP displacements under each foot and of the whole body, and the relationships between the arm, trunk, and CoP displacements. CoP displacements under the non-paretic leg were greater than those under the paretic leg, which may in part be related to the larger amplitude of swinging of the non-paretic arm. CoP displacements under each foot were not related to arm swinging during in-phase swinging at the preferred speed in healthy subjects. When speed of arm swinging was increased, however, the CoP moved in a direction opposite to the arm movement. In contrast, in individuals with hemiparesis, CoPs and arms moved in the same direction for both speeds. During anti-phase swinging in healthy subjects, the trunk counterbalanced the arm movements, while in participants with hemiparesis, the trunk moved with the affected arm. Results show that stroke resulted in abnormal patterns of arm-trunk-CoP interactions that may be related to a greater involvement of the trunk in arm transport, an altered pattern of coordination between arm and CoP displacements, and an impaired ability of the damaged nervous system to adapt postural synergies to changes in movement velocity.

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Anatol G. Feldman, David J. Ostry, Mindy F. Levin, Paul L. Gribble and Arnold B. Mitnitski

The λ model of the equihbrium-point hypothesis (Feldman & Levin, 1995) is an approach to motor control which, like physics, is based on a logical system coordinating empirical data. The model has gone through an interesting period. On one hand, several nontrivial predictions of the model have been successfully verified in recent studies. In addition, the explanatory and predictive capacity of the model has been enhanced by its extension to multimuscle and multijoint systems. On the other hand, claims have recently appeared suggesting that the model should be abandoned. The present paper focuses on these claims and concludes that they are unfounded. Much of the experimental data that have been used to reject the model are actually consistent with it.

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Julie N. Côté, Anatol G. Feldman, Pierre A. Mathieu and Mindy F. Levin

Fatigue affects the capacity of muscles to generate forces and is associated with characteristic changes in EMG signals. It may also influence interjoint and intermuscular coordination. To understand better the global effects of fatigue on multijoint movement, we studied movement kinematics and EMG changes in healthy volunteers asked to hammer repetitively. Movement kinematics and the activity of 20 muscles of the arm, trunk, and leg were recorded before and after subjects became fatigued (as measured using a Borg scale). When fatigue was reached, maximal grip strength and elbow range of motion decreased while the EMG amplitude of the contralateral external oblique muscle was increased. Fatigue did not affect shoulder and wrist kinematics or movement frequency. Results suggest that fatigue influences motion at both local and global levels. Specifically, interjoint and intermuscular coordination adapt to compensate for local effects of fatigue and to maintain key movement characteristics, such as the trajectory of the end effector and the movement frequency. Nonlocal compensations may be a focus of future studies of how fatigue affects complex movements such as those typically performed in the workplace.