This study investigated the presence of inter-limb activity at the elbow joint in individuals with childhood-onset hemiparesis, including spontaneous mirror movements during unilateral tasks and the ability to suppress them during bilateral tasks. Eighteen individuals with hemiparesis were divided into three categories of injury timing: before birth (PRE-natal), around the time of birth (PERI-natal), and after 6 months of age (POST-natal). Individuals with hemiparesis, as well as 12 typically developing peers, participated in unilateral and bilateral elbow flexion and extension tasks completed at maximal and submaximal effort while muscle activity was monitored and motor output was quantified by two multiple degrees-of-freedom load cells. Significantly, higher levels of paretic elbow flexion were found only in the PRE- and PERI-natal groups during the flexion of the non-paretic limb, which was modulated by effort level in both unilateral and bilateral tasks. The bilateral activation of elbow flexors in the PRE-/PERI-natal groups indicates potential use of a common cortical command source to drive both upper extremities, while the POST-natal/typically developing groups' flexors appear to receive input from different supraspinal structures.
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