A new method for functional evaluation of motor commands in patients with cerebellar ataxia

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Abstract

Quantitative evaluation of motor functions of patients with cerebellar ataxia is vital for evi- dence-based treatments and has been a focus in previous investigations ofmovement kine- matics. Due to redundancy of the musculoskeletal system, muscle activities containmore information than themovement kinematics. Therefore, it is preferable to analyze causal anomalies of muscle activities to evaluate motor functions in patients. Here we propose a new method to evaluate themotor functions at the level ofmuscle activities and movement kinematics. Nineteen patients and 10 control subjects performed two movement tasks of the wrist joint, a step-tracking task and a pursuit task, with amanipulandum. The move- ments of the wrist joint and activities of the four wrist prime movers were recorded.We developed a linear model for the wrist joint to approximate the causal relationship between muscle activities and movement kinematics in terms of the wrist joint torque. We used a canonical correlation analysis to verify the causality between the muscle activities and the movement kinematics in the model.We found that the activities of the four muscles were related almost entirely to the position and velocity, with negligible correlation with the accel- eration of the wrist joint.Moreover, the ratio of the weights for position- and velocity-related torque components characterized the contents of the muscle activities in terms of themove- ment kinematics. Next, we compared the ratios for the twomovement tasks between the controls and patients. In control subjects, the ratios indicated clear task-specific changes that conformed to the functional requirements of the tasks. In contrast, in patients, the task- specific changes diminished highly significantly. The present results indicate that this ability to accommodate motor commands to the task requirements provides a novel quantitative parameter to characterize motor functions in patients with cerebellar ataxia. Introduction

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Lee, J., Kagamihara, Y., & Kakei, S. (2015). A new method for functional evaluation of motor commands in patients with cerebellar ataxia. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132983

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