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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.
Levin, M. F., Liebermann, D. G., Parmet, Y., & Berman, S. (2015). Compensatory Versus Noncompensatory Shoulder Movements Used for Reaching in Stroke. Neurorehabil Neural Repair, .
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The extent to which the upper-limb flexor synergy constrains or compensates for arm motor impairment during reaching is controversial. This synergy can be quantified with a minimal marker set describing movements of the arm-plane. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether and how (a) upper-limb flexor synergy in patients with chronic stroke contributes to reaching movements to different arm workspace locations and (b) reaching deficits can be characterized by arm-plane motion. METHODS: Sixteen post-stroke and 8 healthy control subjects made unrestrained reaching movements to targets located in ipsilateral, central, and contralateral arm workspaces. Arm-plane, arm, and trunk motion, and their temporal and spatial linkages were analyzed. RESULTS: Individuals with moderate/severe stroke used greater arm-plane movement and compensatory trunk movement compared to those with mild stroke and control subjects. Arm-plane and trunk movements were more temporally coupled in stroke compared with controls. Reaching accuracy was related to different segment and joint combinations for each target and group: arm-plane movement in controls and mild stroke subjects, and trunk and elbow movements in moderate/severe stroke subjects. Arm-plane movement increased with time since stroke and when combined with trunk rotation, discriminated between different subject groups for reaching the central and contralateral targets. Trunk movement and arm-plane angle during target reaches predicted the subject group. CONCLUSIONS: The upper-limb flexor synergy was used adaptively for reaching accuracy by patients with mild, but not moderate/severe stroke. The flexor synergy, as parameterized by the amount of arm-plane motion, can be used by clinicians to identify levels of motor recovery in patients with stroke.
Harel Arzi, Tal Krasovsky, Moshe Pritsch, & Dario G. Liebermann. (2014). Movement control in patients with shoulder instability: a comparison between patients after open surgery and nonoperated patients. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 23(7), 982–992.
Open surgery to correct shoulder instability is deemed to facilitate recovery of static and dynamic motor functions. Postoperative assessments focus primarily on static outcomes (e.g., repositioning accuracy). We introduce kinematic measures of arm smoothness to assess shoulder patients after open surgery and compare them with nonoperated patients. Performance among both groups of patients was hypothesized to differ. Postsurgery patients were expected to match healthy controls.
All participants performed pointing movements with the affected/dominant arm fully extended at fast, preferred, and slow speeds (36 trials per subject). Kinematic data were collected (100 Hz, 3 seconds), and mixed-design analyses of variance (group, speed) were performed with movement time, movement amplitude, acceleration time, and model-observed similarities as dependent variables. Nonparametric tests were performed for number of velocity peaks.
Nonoperated and postsurgery patients showed similarities at preferred and faster movement speeds but not at slower speed. Postsurgery patients were closer to maximally smoothed motion and differed from healthy controls mainly during slow arm movements (closer to maximal smoothness, larger movement amplitude, shorter movement time, and lower number of peaks; i.e., less movement fragmentation).
Arm kinematic analyses suggest that open surgery stabilizes the shoulder but does not necessarily restore normal movement quality. Patients with recurrent anterior shoulder instability (RASI) seem to implement a “safe” but nonadaptive mode of action whereby preplanned stereotypical movements may be executed without depending on feedback. Rehabilitation of RASI patients should focus on restoring feedback-based movement control. Clinical assessment of RASI patients should include higher order kinematic descriptors.
Merdler, T., Liebermann, D. G., Levin, M. F., & Berman, S. (2013). Arm-plane representation of shoulder compensation during pointing movements in patients with stroke. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 23(4), 938–947.
Abstract: Improvements in functional motor activities are often accompanied by motor compensations to overcome persistent motor impairment in the upper limb. Kinematic analysis is used to objectively quantify movement patterns including common motor compensations such as excessive trunk displacement during reaching. However, a common motor compensation to assist reaching, shoulder abduction, is not adequately characterized by current motion analysis approaches. We apply the arm-plane representation that accounts for the co-variation between movements of the whole arm, and investigate its ability to identify and quantify compensatory arm movements in stroke subjects when making forward arm reaches. This method has not been previously applied to the analysis of motion deficits. Sixteen adults with right post-stroke hemiparesis and eight healthy age-matched controls reached in three target directions (14 trials/target; sampling rate: 100Hz). Arm-plane movement was validated against endpoint, joint, and trunk kinematics and compared between groups. In stroke subjects, arm-plane measures were correlated with arm impairment (Fugl-Meyer Assessment) and ability (Box and Blocks) scores and were more sensitive than clinical measures to detect mild motor impairment. Arm-plane motion analysis provides new information about motor compensations involving the co-variation of shoulder and elbow movements that may help to understand the underlying motor deficits in patients with stroke.
Friedman, J., Brown, S., & Finkbeiner, M. (2013). Linking cognitive and reaching trajectories via intermittent movement control. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 57(3-4), 140–151.
Abstract: Theories of decision-making have traditionally been constrained by reaction time data. A limitation of reaction time data, particularly for studying the temporal dynamics of cognitive processing, is that they index only the endpoint of the decision making process. Recently, physical reaching trajectories have been used as proxies for underlying mental trajectories through decision space. We suggest that this approach has been oversimplified: while it is possible for the motor control system to access the current state of the evidence accumulation process, this access is intermittent. Instead, we demonstrate how a model of arm movements that assumes intermittent, not continuous, access to the decision process is sufficient to describe the effects of stimulus quality and viewing time in curved reaching movements.