Objective: Successful execution of upright locomotion requires coordinated interaction between controllers for locomotion and posture. Our earlier research supported this model in the nonimpaired and found impaired interaction in the post-stroke nervous system during locomotion. In this study, we sought to examine the role of the Ia afferent spinal loop, via the Hreflex response, under postural influence during a locomotor task. We tested the hypothesis that the ability to increase stretch reflex gain in response to postural loads during locomotion would be reduced post-stroke. Methods: Fifteen individuals with chronic post-stroke hemiparesis and 13 non-impaired controls pedaled on a motorized cycle ergometer with specialized backboard support system under (1) seated supported, and (2) non-seated postural-loaded conditions, generating matched pedal force outputs of two levels. H-reflexes were elicited at 90°crank angle. Results: We observed increased H-reflex gain with postural influence in non-impaired individuals, but a lack of increase in individuals post-stroke. Furthermore, we observed decreased Hreflex gain at higher postural loads in the stroke-impaired group. Conclusion: These findings suggest an impaired Ia afferent pathway potentially underlies the defects in the interaction between postural and locomotor control post-stroke and may explain reduced ability of paretic limb support during locomotor weight-bearing in individuals poststroke.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)