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Steinhart, S., Weiss, P. L., & Friedman, J. (2021). Proximal and distal movement patterns during a graphomotor task in typically developing children and children with handwriting problems. J Neuroeng Rehabil, 18(1), 178.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Therapists specializing in handwriting difficulties in children often address motor problems including both proximal and distal movements in the upper extremity. Kinematic measures can be used to investigate various aspects of handwriting. This study examined differences in movement patterns in proximal and distal joints of the upper extremity during graphomotor tasks between typically developing children with and without handwriting problems. Additionally, it explored relationships between movement patterns, speed, and legibility of writing. METHODS: Forty-one children, aged 7-11 years, were assessed with the Aleph Aleph Ktav Yad Hebrew Handwriting assessment and the Beery Test of Visual Motor Integration and, based on their scores, were divided into a research group (with handwriting difficulties) and a control group (without handwriting difficulties). Upper extremity joint movement patterns were analyzed with a motion capture system. Differences in the quality of shapes traced and copied on a graphics tablet positioned horizontally and vertically were compared. Between-group differences and relationships with speed and legibility were analyzed. RESULTS: In both groups, there was greater movement in the distal compared to the proximal joints, greater movement when performing the task in a horizontal compared to a vertical plane, and greater movement when tracing than copying. Joint movements in the arm executed scaled-down versions of the shapes being drawn. While the amount of joint displacement was similar between groups, children in the research group showed greater dissimilarity between the drawn shape and the shape produced by the proximal joints. Finally, the drawing measure on the tablet was a significant predictor of legibility, speed of writing, visual motor integration and motor coordination, whereas the dissimilarity measure of joint movement was a significant predictor of speed of writing and motor coordination. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides support for the role of the distal upper extremity joints in the writing process and some guidance to assist clinicians in devising treatment strategies for movement-related handwriting problems. While we observed differences in proximal joint movements between the children with and without handwriting difficulties, the extent to which they are responsible for the differences in drawing quality remains to be determined. Further studies should use a similar methodology to examine additional tasks such as drawing shapes of varying sizes.
Keywords: Arm; Biomechanical Phenomena; Child; *Handwriting; Humans; Motor Skills; *Movement; Upper Extremity; Distal joints; Handwriting; Motor control; Movement analysis; Proximal; Stability
Raveh, E., Friedman, J., & Portnoy, S. (2018). Evaluation of the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on performance and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm. Clin Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: Objective: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on the performance time and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm.
Design: A repeated-measures design with a counterbalanced order of two conditions.
Setting: Laboratory setting.
Subjects: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age=65 ± 13 years). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems.
Interventions: Subjects performed grasping tasks with their prosthesis, while controlling a virtual car on a road with their intact hand. The dual task was performed twice: with and without vibrotactile feedback.
Main measures: Performance time of each of the grasping tasks and gaze behavior, measured by the number of times the subjects shifted their gaze toward their hand, the relative time they applied their attention to the screen, and percentage of error in the secondary task.
Results: The mean performance time was significantly shorter (P=0.024) when using vibrotactile feedback (93.2 ± 9.6 seconds) compared with the performance time measured when vibrotactile feedback was not available (107.8 ± 20.3seconds). No significant differences were found between the two conditions in the number of times the gaze shifted from the screen to the hand, in the time the subjects applied their attention to the screen, and in the time the virtual car was off-road, as a percentage of the total game time
(51.4 ± 15.7 and 50.2 ± 19.5, respectively).
Conclusion: Adding vibrotactile feedback improved performance time during grasping in a dual-task paradigm. Prosthesis users may use vibrotactile feedback to perform better during daily tasks, when multiple cognitive demands are present.
Raveh, E., Portnoy, S., & Friedman, J. (2018). Myoelectric Prosthesis Users Improve Performance Time and Accuracy Using Vibrotactile Feedback When Visual Feedback Is Disturbed. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback (VTF) in myoelectric prosthesis users during performance of a functional task when visual feedback is disturbed. DESIGN: A repeated-measures design with a counter-balanced order of 3 conditions. SETTING: Laboratory setting. PARTICIPANTS: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age 65+/-13y). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems. INTERVENTIONS: All participants performed the modified Box and Blocks Test, grasping and manipulating 16 blocks over a partition using their myoelectric prosthesis. This was performed 3 times: in full light, in a dark room without VTF, and in a dark room with VTF. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Performance time, that is, the time needed to transfer 1 block, and accuracy during performance, measured by number of empty grips, empty transitions with no block and block drops from the hand. RESULTS: Significant differences were found in all outcome measures when VTF was added, with improved performance time (4.2 vs 5.3s) and a reduced number of grasping errors (3.0 vs 6.5 empty grips, 1.5 vs 4 empty transitions, 2.0 vs 4.5 block drops). CONCLUSIONS: Adding VTF to myoelectric prosthesis users has positive effects on performance time and accuracy when visual feedback is disturbed.
Keywords: Amputation; Prosthesis; Rehabilitation; Sensory feedback; Visual feedback
Dempsey-Jones, H., Wesselink, D. B., Friedman, J., & Makin, T. R. (2019). Organized Toe Maps in Extreme Foot Users. Cell Reports, 28(11), 2748–2756.e4.
Abstract: Although the fine-grained features of topographic maps in the somatosensory cortex can be shaped by everyday experience, it is unknown whether behavior can support the expression of somatotopic maps where they do not typically occur. Unlike the fingers, represented in all primates, individuated toe maps have only been found in non-human primates. Using 1-mm resolution fMRI, we identify organized toe maps in two individuals born without either upper limb who use their feet to substitute missing hand function and even support their profession as foot artists. We demonstrate that the ordering and structure of the artists’ toe representation mimics typical hand representation. We further reveal “hand-like” features of activity patterns, not only in the foot area but also similarly in the missing hand area. We suggest humans may have an innate capacity for forming additional topographic maps that can be expressed with appropriate experience.
Friedman, J., & Korman, M. (2012). Kinematic Strategies Underlying Improvement in the Acquisition of a Sequential Finger Task with Self-Generated vs. Cued Repetition Training. PLoS One, 7(12), e52063.
Abstract: Many motor skills, such as typing, consist of articulating simple movements into novel sequences that are executed faster and smoother with practice. Dynamics of re-organization of these movement sequences with multi-session training and its dependence on the amount of self-regulation of pace during training is not yet fully understood. In this study, participants practiced a sequence of key presses. Training sessions consisted of either externally (Cued) or self-initiated (Uncued) training. Long-term improvements in performance speed were mainly due to reducing gaps between finger movements in both groups, but Uncued training induced higher gains. The underlying kinematic strategies producing these changes and the representation of the trained sequence differed significantly across subjects, although net gains in speed were similar. The differences in long-term memory due to the type of training and the variation in strategies between subjects, suggest that the different neural mechanisms may subserve the improvements observed in overall performance.