Altered steering strategies for goal-directed locomotion in stroke

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BACKGROUND Individuals who have sustained a stroke can manifest altered locomotor steering behaviors when exposed to optic flows expanding from different locations. Whether these alterations persist in the presence of a visible goal and whether they can be explained by the presence of a perceptuo-motor disorder remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare stroke participants and healthy participants on their ability to control heading while exposed to changing optic flows and target locations. METHODS Ten participants with stroke (55.6 ± 9.3 yrs) and ten healthy controls (57.0 ± 11.5 yrs) participated in a mouse-driven steering task (perceptuo-motor task) while seated and in a walking steering task. In the seated steering task, participants were instructed to head or 'walk' toward a target in the virtual environment by using a mouse while wearing a helmet-mounted display (HMD). In the walking task, participants performed a similar steering task in the same virtual environment while walking overground at their comfortable speed. For both experiments, the target and/or the focus of expansion (FOE) of the optic flow shifted to the side (±20°) or remained centered. The main outcome measure was net heading errors (NHE). Secondary outcomes included mediolateral displacement, horizontal head orientation, and onsets of heading and head reorientation. RESULTS In the walking steering task, the presence of FOE shifts modulated the extent and timing of mediolateral displacement and head rotation changes, as well as NHE magnitudes. Participants overshot and undershot their net heading, respectively, in response to ipsilateral and contralateral FOE and target shifts. Stroke participants made larger NHEs, especially when the FOE was shifted towards the non-paretic side. In the seated steering task, similar NHEs were observed between stroke and healthy participants. CONCLUSIONS The findings highlight the fine coordination between rotational and translational steering mechanisms in presence of targets and FOE shifts. The altered performance of stroke participants in walking but not in the seated steering task suggests that an altered perceptuo-motor processing of optic flow is not a main contributing factor and that other stroke-related sensorimotor deficits are involved.




Aburub, A. S., & Lamontagne, A. (2013). Altered steering strategies for goal-directed locomotion in stroke. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 10(1).

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