For the past fifteen years, observation of actions has proved to be effective in the motor rehabilitation of stroke. Despite this, no evidence has ever been provided that this practice is able to activate the efferent motor system of a limb unable to perform the observed action due to stroke. In fact, transcranial magnetic stimulation cannot easily be used in these patients, and the fMRI evidence is inconclusive. This creates a logical problem, as the effectiveness of action observation in functional recovery is attributed to its ability to evoke action simulation, up to sub-threshold muscle activation (i.e., motor resonance), in healthy individuals. To provide the necessary proof-of-concept, patients with severe upper limb function impairments and matched control participants were submitted to a verified action prediction paradigm. They were asked to watch videos showing gripping movements towards a graspable or an ungraspable object, and to press a button the instant the agent touched the object. The presence of more accurate responses for the graspable object trials is considered an indirect evidence of motor resonance. Participants were required to perform the task in two sessions which differed in the hand used to respond. Despite the serious difficulty of movement, 8 out of 18 patients were able to perform the task with their impaired hand. We found that the responses given by the paretic hand showed a modulation of the action prediction time no different from that showed by the non-paretic hand, which, in turn, did not differ from that showed by the matched control participants. The present proof-of-concept study shows that action observation involves the efferent motor system even when the hand used to respond is unable to perform the observed action due to a cortical lesion, providing the missing evidence to support the already established use of Action Observation Training (AOT) in motor rehabilitation of stroke.

Evidence of motor resonance in stroke patients with severe upper limb function impairments

Mele, Sonia;Gaifas, Valentina;
2023-01-01

Abstract

For the past fifteen years, observation of actions has proved to be effective in the motor rehabilitation of stroke. Despite this, no evidence has ever been provided that this practice is able to activate the efferent motor system of a limb unable to perform the observed action due to stroke. In fact, transcranial magnetic stimulation cannot easily be used in these patients, and the fMRI evidence is inconclusive. This creates a logical problem, as the effectiveness of action observation in functional recovery is attributed to its ability to evoke action simulation, up to sub-threshold muscle activation (i.e., motor resonance), in healthy individuals. To provide the necessary proof-of-concept, patients with severe upper limb function impairments and matched control participants were submitted to a verified action prediction paradigm. They were asked to watch videos showing gripping movements towards a graspable or an ungraspable object, and to press a button the instant the agent touched the object. The presence of more accurate responses for the graspable object trials is considered an indirect evidence of motor resonance. Participants were required to perform the task in two sessions which differed in the hand used to respond. Despite the serious difficulty of movement, 8 out of 18 patients were able to perform the task with their impaired hand. We found that the responses given by the paretic hand showed a modulation of the action prediction time no different from that showed by the non-paretic hand, which, in turn, did not differ from that showed by the matched control participants. The present proof-of-concept study shows that action observation involves the efferent motor system even when the hand used to respond is unable to perform the observed action due to a cortical lesion, providing the missing evidence to support the already established use of Action Observation Training (AOT) in motor rehabilitation of stroke.
2023
AOT
Action observation
Action prediction
Motor resonance
Paresis
Stroke
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1086113
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