Muscle synergies are hypothesized to represent motor modules recruited by the nervous system to flexibly perform subtasks necessary to achieve movement. Muscle synergy analysis may offer a better view of the neural structure underlying motor behaviors and how they change in motor deficits and rehabilitation. The aim of this study is to investigate if muscle synergies are able to encode regularities in the musculoskeletal system organization and dynamic behavior of patients with dystonia, or if they are altered as a consequence of the nervous system dysfunction in dystonia. To do so, we applied muscle synergies analysis to muscle activity recorded during the execution of upper limb writing tasks in 10 children with dystonia and 9 age-matched healthy controls. We show that, although children with dystonia present movement abnormalities compared to control subjects, the muscle synergies extracted from the two groups are very similar, and that the two groups share a significant number of motor modules. Our finding therefore suggests that a regular modular organization of upper limb muscle coordination is preserved for childhood dystonia.
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