How do motor outcomes and functional independence differ with side of brain damage in stroke survivors?

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. Chronic stroke survivors face numerous challenges to achieving functional independence due to movement deficits in both arms. Previous research has shown that the type of movement deficit depends on the side of brain damage. The overall goal of this project is to examine how these hemisphere-specific deficits in movement affect functional outcomes differently in left and right brain damaged stroke survivors. The outcomes of the proposed research will aid in improving the lives of chronic stroke survivors by enabling the development of mechanistic-based movement rehabilitation strategies.

The role of cognition on motor execution

Increased cognitive load has been shown to result in poor motor performance e.g., walking along a straight line while answering questions on the phone. Do these detrimental effects on performance get reduced with tasks that require more cooperation between limbs? Are there interlimb differences in how increased cognitive load affects motor outcomes? By examining motor performance using behavioral outcomes and electromyography, we can better explain how motor coordination is affected by cognitive load.

The role of sensory feedback on movement control

A general objective of this research is to improve our understanding of the effect of sensory feedback on movement. We examine movement in individuals without proprioception or in individuals with impaired sensory feedback conditions (such as in stroke or by introducing visual perturbations in neurologically intact controls). We aim to determine interlimb differences in motor control with impaired or absent sensory feedback with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how we can design rehabilitation tools and strategies that are more personalized to individual needs.