Speed-dependent reductions of force output in people with poststroke hemiparesis

David A. Brown, Steven A. Kautz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose. Movement is slow in people with poststroke hemiparesis. Moving at faster speeds is thought by some researchers to exacerbate abnormal or unwanted muscle activity. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of increased speed on motor performance during pedaling exercise in people with poststroke hemiparesis. Subjects. Twelve elderly subjects with no known neurological impairment and 15 subjects with poststroke hemiparesis of greater than 6 months' duration were tested. Methods. Subjects pedaled at 12 randomly ordered workload and cadence combinations (45-, 90-, 135-, and 180-J workloads at 25, 40, and 55 rpm). Pedal reaction forces were used to calculate work done by each lower extremity. Electromyographic activity was recorded from 7 lower-extremity muscles. Results. The main finding was that net mechanical work done by the paretic lower extremity decreased as speed increased in all subjects. The occurrence of inappropriate muscle activity on the paretic side, however, was not exacerbated in that the vastus medialis muscle on the paretic side did not show a consistent further increase in its prolonged activity at higher speeds. The mechanics of faster pedaling resulted in greater net negative mechanical work because, at higher pedaling rates, the prolonged vastus medialis muscle activity is present during a greater portion of the cycle. Conclusion and Discussion. The lessened force output by the paretic limb is mainly the result of the inherent mechanical demands of higher-speed pedaling and not due to exacerbation of impaired neural control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-930
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Hemiparesis
  • Motor activity
  • Muscle spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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