Evaluation of Functional Correlation of Task-Specific Muscle Synergies with Motor Performance in Patients Poststroke.
ABSTRACT: The central nervous system produces movements by activating specifically programmed muscle synergies that are also altered with injuries in the brain, such as stroke. In this study, we hypothesize that there exists a positive correlation between task-specific muscle synergy and motor functions at joint and task levels in patients following stroke. The purpose here is to define and evaluate neurophysiological metrics based on task-specific muscle synergy for assessing motor functions in patients. A patient group of 10 subjects suffering from stroke and a control group of nine age-matched healthy subjects were recruited to participate in this study. Electromyography (EMG) signals and movement kinematics were recorded in patients and control subjects while performing arm reaching tasks. Muscle synergies of individual patients were extracted off-line from EMG records of each patient, and a baseline pattern of muscle synergy was obtained from the pooled EMG data of all nine control subjects. Peak velocities and movement durations of each reaching movement were computed from measured kinematics. Similarity indices of matching components to those of the baseline synergy were defined by synergy vectors and time profiles, respectively, as well as by a combined similarity of vector and time profile. Results showed that pathological synergies of patients were altered from the characteristics of baseline synergy with missing components, or varied vector patterns and time profiles. The kinematic performance measured by peak velocities and movement durations was significantly poorer for the patient group than the control group. In patients, all three similarity indices were found to correlate significantly to the kinematics of movements for the reaching tasks. The correlation to the Fugl-Meyer score of arm was the highest with the vector index, the lowest with the time profile index, and in between with the combined index. These findings illustrate that the analysis of task-specific muscle synergy can provide valuable insights into motor deficits for patients following stroke, and the task-specific similarity indices are useful neurophysiological metrics to predict the function of neuromuscular control at the joint and task levels for patients.
Project description:Fine motor control is achieved through the coordinated activation of groups of muscles, or "muscle synergies." Muscle synergies change after stroke as a consequence of the motor deficit. We investigated the pattern and longitudinal changes in upper limb muscle synergies during therapy in a largely unconstrained movement in patients with a broad spectrum of poststroke residual voluntary motor capacity. Electromyography (EMG) was recorded using wireless telemetry from 6 muscles acting on the more-affected upper body in 24 stroke patients at early and late therapy during formal Wii-based Movement Therapy (WMT) sessions, and in a subset of 13 patients at 6-month follow-up. Patients were classified with low, moderate, or high motor-function. The Wii-baseball swing was analyzed using a non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) algorithm to extract muscle synergies from EMG recordings based on the temporal activation of each synergy and the contribution of each muscle to a synergy. Motor-function was clinically assessed immediately pre- and post-therapy and at 6-month follow-up using the Wolf Motor Function Test, upper limb motor Fugl-Meyer Assessment, and Motor Activity Log Quality of Movement scale. Clinical assessments and game performance demonstrated improved motor-function for all patients at post-therapy (p < 0.01), and these improvements were sustained at 6-month follow-up (p > 0.05). NMF analysis revealed fewer muscle synergies (mean ± SE) for patients with low motor-function (3.38 ± 0.2) than those with high motor-function (4.00 ± 0.3) at early therapy (p = 0.036) with an association trend between the number of synergies and the level of motor-function. By late therapy, there was no significant change between groups, although there was a pattern of increase for those with low motor-function over time. The variability accounted for demonstrated differences with motor-function level (p < 0.05) but not time. Cluster analysis of the pooled synergies highlighted the therapy-induced change in muscle activation. Muscle synergies could be identified for all patients during therapy activities. These results show less complexity and more co-activation in the muscle activation for patients with low motor-function as a higher number of muscle synergies reflects greater movement complexity and task-related phasic muscle activation. The increased number of synergies and changes within synergies by late-therapy suggests improved motor control and movement quality with more distinct phases of movement.
Project description:Voluntary movement is hypothesized to rely on a limited number of muscle synergies, the recruitment of which translates task goals into effective muscle activity. In this study, we investigated how to analytically characterize the functional role of different types of muscle synergies in task performance. To this end, we recorded a comprehensive dataset of muscle activity during a variety of whole-body pointing movements. We decomposed the electromyographic (EMG) signals using a space-by-time modularity model which encompasses the main types of synergies. We then used a task decoding and information theoretic analysis to probe the role of each synergy by mapping it to specific task features. We found that the temporal and spatial aspects of the movements were encoded by different temporal and spatial muscle synergies, respectively, consistent with the intuition that there should a correspondence between major attributes of movement and major features of synergies. This approach led to the development of a novel computational method for comparing muscle synergies from different participants according to their functional role. This functional similarity analysis yielded a small set of temporal and spatial synergies that describes the main features of whole-body reaching movements.
Project description:The large number of mechanical degrees of freedom of the hand is not fully exploited during actual movements such as grasping. Usually, angular movements in various joints tend to be coupled, and EMG activities in different hand muscles tend to be correlated. The occurrence of covariation in the former was termed kinematic synergies, in the latter muscle synergies. This study addresses two questions: (i) Whether kinematic and muscle synergies can simultaneously accommodate for kinematic and kinetic constraints. (ii) If so, whether there is an interrelation between kinematic and muscle synergies. We used a reach-grasp-and-pull paradigm and recorded the hand kinematics as well as eight surface EMGs. Subjects had to either perform a precision grip or side grip and had to modify their grip force in order to displace an object against a low or high load. The analysis was subdivided into three epochs: reach, grasp-and-pull, and static hold. Principal component analysis (PCA, temporal or static) was performed separately for all three epochs, in the kinematic and in the EMG domain. PCA revealed that (i) Kinematic- and muscle-synergies can simultaneously accommodate kinematic (grip type) and kinetic task constraints (load condition). (ii) Upcoming grip and load conditions of the grasp are represented in kinematic- and muscle-synergies already during reach. Phase plane plots of the principal muscle-synergy against the principal kinematic synergy revealed (iii) that the muscle-synergy is linked (correlated, and in phase advance) to the kinematic synergy during reach and during grasp-and-pull. Furthermore (iv), pair-wise correlations of EMGs during hold suggest that muscle-synergies are (in part) implemented by coactivation of muscles through common input. Together, these results suggest that kinematic synergies have (at least in part) their origin not just in muscular activation, but in synergistic muscle activation. In short: kinematic synergies may result from muscle synergies.
Project description:Purpose: A muscle synergies model was suggested to represent a simplifying motor control mechanism by the brainstem and spinal cord. The aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility of such control mechanisms in the rehabilitation of post-stroke individuals during the execution of hand-reaching movements in multiple directions, compared to non-stroke individuals. Methods: Twelve non-stroke and 13 post-stroke individuals participated in the study. Muscle synergies were extracted from EMG data that was recorded during hand reaching tasks, using the NMF algorithm. The optimal number of synergies was evaluated in both groups using the Variance Accounted For (VAF) and the Mean Squared Error (MSE). A cross validation procedure was carried out to define a representative set of synergies. The similarity index and the K-means algorithm were applied to validate the existence of such a set of synergies, but also to compare the modulation properties of synergies for different movement directions between groups. The similarity index and hierarchical cluster analysis were also applied to compare between group synergies. Results: Four synergies were chosen to optimally capture the variances in the EMG data, with mean VAF of 0.917 ± 0.034 and 0.883 ± 0.046 of the data variances, with respective MSE of 0.007 and 0.016, in the control and study groups, respectively. The representative set of synergies was set to be extracted from movement to the center of the reaching space. Two synergies had different muscle activation balance between groups. Seven and 17 clusters partitioned the muscle synergies of the control and study groups. The control group exhibited a gradual change in the activation in the amplitude in the time domain (modulation) of synergies, as reflected by the similarity index, whereas the study group exhibited consistently significant differences between all movement directions and the representative set of synergies. The study findings support the existence of a representative set of synergies, which are modulated to execute movements in different directions. Conclusions: Post-stroke individuals differently modulate the activation of synergies to different movement directions than do non-stroke individuals. The conclusion was supported by different muscle activation balances, similarity values and different classifications of synergies among groups.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Muscle synergies analysis can provide a deep understanding of motor impairment after stroke and of changes after rehabilitation. In this study, the neuro-mechanical analysis of leg cycling was used to longitudinally investigate the motor recovery process coupled with cycling training augmented by Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) in subacute stroke survivors. METHODS:Subjects with ischemic subacute stroke participated in a 3-week training of FES-cycling with visual biofeedback plus usual care. Participants were evaluated before and after the intervention through clinical scales, gait spatio-temporal parameters derived from an instrumented mat, and a voluntary pedaling test. Biomechanical metrics (work produced by the two legs, mechanical effectiveness and symmetry indexes) and bilateral electromyography from 9 leg muscles were acquired during the voluntary pedaling test. To extract muscles synergies, the Weighted Nonnegative Matrix Factorization algorithm was applied to the normalized EMG envelopes. Synergy complexity was measured by the number of synergies required to explain more than 90% of the total variance of the normalized EMG envelopes and variance accounted for by one synergy. Regardless the inter-subject differences in the number of extracted synergies, 4 synergies were extracted from each patient and the cosine-similarity between patients and healthy weight vectors was computed. RESULTS:Nine patients (median age of 75?years and median time post-stroke of 2?weeks) were recruited. Significant improvements in terms of clinical scales, gait parameters and work produced by the affected leg were obtained after training. Synergy complexity well correlated to the level of motor impairment at baseline, but it did not change after training. We found a significant improvement in the similarity of the synergy responsible of the knee flexion during the pulling phase of the pedaling cycle, which was the mostly compromised at baseline. This improvement may indicate the re-learning of a more physiological motor strategy. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings support the use of the neuro-mechanical analysis of cycling as a method to assess motor recovery after stroke, mainly in an early phase, when gait evaluation is not yet possible. The improvement in the modular coordination of pedaling correlated with the improvement in motor functions and walking ability achieved at the end of the intervention support the role of FES-cycling in enhancing motor re-learning after stroke but need to be confirmed in a controlled study with a larger sample size. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrial.gov, NCT02439515. Registered on May 8, 2015, .
Project description:The muscle synergy hypothesis assumes that individual muscle synergies are independent of each other and voluntarily controllable. However, this assumption has not been empirically tested. This study tested if human subjects can voluntarily activate individual muscle synergies extracted by non-negative matrix factorization (NMF), the standard mathematical method for synergy extraction. We defined the activation of a single muscle synergy as the generation of a muscle activity pattern vector parallel to the single muscle synergy vector. Subjects performed an isometric force production task with their right hand, and the 13 muscle activity patterns associated with their elbow and shoulder movements were measured. We extracted muscle synergies during the task using electromyogram (EMG) data and the NMF method with varied numbers of muscle synergies. The number (N) of muscle synergies was determined by using the variability accounted for (VAF, NVAF ) and the coefficient of determination (CD, NCD ). An additional muscle synergy model with NAD was also considered. We defined a conventional muscle synergy as the muscle synergy extracted by the NVAF , NCD , and NAD . We also defined an extended muscle synergy as the muscle synergy extracted by the NEX > NAD . To examine whether the individual muscle synergy was voluntarily activatable or not, we calculated the index of independent activation, which reflects similarities between a selected single muscle synergy and the current muscle activation pattern of the subject. Subjects were visually feed-backed the index of independent activation, then instructed to generate muscle activity patterns similar to the conventional and extended muscle synergies. As a result, an average of 90.8% of the muscle synergy extracted by the NVAF was independently activated. However, the proportion of activatable muscle synergies extracted by NCD and NAD was lower. These results partly support the assumption of the muscle synergy hypothesis, i.e., that the conventional method can extract voluntarily and independently activatable muscle synergies by using the appropriate index of reconstruction. Moreover, an average of 25.5% of the extended muscle synergy was significantly activatable. This result suggests that the CNS can use extended muscle synergies to perform voluntary movements.
Project description:A coordinated pattern of multi-muscle activation is essential to produce efficient reaching trajectories. Disruption of these coordinated activation patterns, termed synergies, is evident following stroke and results in reaching deficits; however, preclinical investigation of this phenomenon has been largely ignored. Furthermore, traditional outcome measures of post-stroke performance seldom distinguish between impairment restitution and compensatory movement strategies. We sought to address this by using kinematic analysis to characterize reaching movements and kinematic synergies of rats performing the Montoya staircase task, before and after ischemic stroke. Synergy was defined as the simultaneous movement of the wrist and other proximal forelimb joints (i.e. shoulder, elbow) during reaching. Following stroke, rats exhibited less individuation between joints, moving the affected limb more as a unit. Moreover, abnormal flexor synergy characterized by concurrent elbow flexion, shoulder adduction, and external rotation was evident. These abnormalities ultimately led to inefficient and unstable reaching trajectories, and decreased reaching performance (pellets retrieved). The observed reaching abnormalities in this preclinical stroke model are similar to those classically observed in humans. This highlights the potential of kinematic analysis to better align preclinical and clinical outcome measures, which is essential for developing future rehabilitation strategies following stroke.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Recent experimental evidence has indicated that the motor system coordinates muscle activations through a linear combination of muscle synergies that are specified at the spinal or brainstem networks level. After stroke upper limb impairment is characterized by abnormal patterns of muscle activations or synergies. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed at characterizing the muscle synergies in severely affected chronic stroke patients. Furthermore, the influence of integrity of the sensorimotor cortex on synergy modularity and its relation with motor impairment was evaluated. METHODS: Surface electromyography from 33 severely impaired chronic stroke patients was recorded during 6 bilateral movements. Muscle synergies were extracted and synergy patterns were correlated with motor impairment scales. RESULTS: Muscle synergies extracted revealed different physiological patterns dependent on the preservation of the sensorimotor cortex. Patients without intact sensorimotor cortex showed a high preservation of muscle synergies. On the contrary, patients with intact sensorimotor cortex showed poorer muscle synergies preservation and an increase in new generated synergies. Furthermore, the preservation of muscle synergies correlated positively with hand functionality in patients with intact sensorimotor cortex and subcortical lesions only. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that severely paralyzed chronic stroke patient with intact sensorimotor cortex might sculpt new synergy patterns as a response to maladaptive compensatory strategies.
Project description:Understanding the reorganization of the central nervous system after stroke is an important endeavor in order to design new therapies in gait training for stroke patients. Current clinical evaluation scores and gait velocity are insufficient to describe the state of the nervous system, and one aspect where this is lacking is in the quantification of gait symmetry. Previous studies have pointed out that spatiotemporal gait asymmetries are commonly observed in stroke patients with hemiparesis. Such asymmetries are known to cause long-term complications like joint pain and deformation. Recent studies also indicate that spatiotemporal measures showed that gait symmetry worsens after discharge from therapy. This study shows that muscle synergy analysis can be used to quantify gait symmetry and compliment clinical measures. Surface EMG was collected from lower limb muscles of subacute post-stroke patients (with an onset of around 14 days) from two groups, one undergoing robotic-assisted therapy (known as HAL group) and the other undergoing conventional therapy (known as Control group). Muscle synergies from the paretic and non-paretic limb were extracted with Non-Negative Matrix Factorization (NNMF) and compared with each other to obtain a gait symmetry index over therapy sessions. Gait events were tracked with motion tracking (for the HAL group) or foot pressure sensors (for the conventional therapy group). Patients from both groups were assessed over a 3-weeks long gait training program. Results indicated that there were no differences in muscle synergy symmetry for both groups of patients. However, the timing of muscle synergies were observed to be symmetrical in the HAL group, but not for the Control group. Intergroup comparisons of symmetry in muscle synergies and their timings were not significantly different. This could be due to a large variability in recovery in the Control group. Finally, stance time ratio was not observed to improve in both groups after their respective therapies. Interestingly, FIM and FMA scores of both groups were observed to improve after their respective therapies. Analysis of muscle coordination could reveal mechanisms of gait symmetry which could otherwise be difficult to observe with clinical scores.
Project description:Abnormal upper arm-forearm muscle synergies after stroke are poorly understood. We investigated whether upper arm function primes paralyzed forearm muscles in chronic stroke patients after Brain-Machine Interface (BMI)-based rehabilitation. Shaping upper arm-forearm muscle synergies may support individualized motor rehabilitation strategies.Thirty-two chronic stroke patients with no active finger extensions were randomly assigned to experimental or sham groups and underwent daily BMI training followed by physiotherapy during four weeks. BMI sessions included desynchronization of ipsilesional brain activity and a robotic orthosis to move the paretic limb (experimental group, n = 16). In the sham group (n = 16) orthosis movements were random. Motor function was evaluated with electromyography (EMG) of forearm extensors, and upper arm and hand Fugl-Meyer assessment (FMA) scores. Patients performed distinct upper arm (e.g., shoulder flexion) and hand movements (finger extensions). Forearm EMG activity significantly higher during upper arm movements as compared to finger extensions was considered facilitation of forearm EMG activity. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to test inter-session reliability of facilitation of forearm EMG activity.Facilitation of forearm EMG activity ICC ranges from 0.52 to 0.83, indicating fair to high reliability before intervention in both limbs. Facilitation of forearm muscles is higher in the paretic as compared to the healthy limb (p<0.001). Upper arm FMA scores predict facilitation of forearm muscles after intervention in both groups (significant correlations ranged from R = 0.752, p = 0.002 to R = 0.779, p = 0.001), but only in the experimental group upper arm FMA scores predict changes in facilitation of forearm muscles after intervention (R = 0.709, p = 0.002; R = 0.827, p<0.001).Residual upper arm motor function primes recruitment of paralyzed forearm muscles in chronic stroke patients and predicts changes in their recruitment after BMI training. This study suggests that changes in upper arm-forearm synergies contribute to stroke motor recovery, and provides candidacy guidelines for similar BMI-based clinical practice.