Disability and rehabilitation vol:28 issue:18 pages:1103-8
PURPOSE: Symmetry tendencies in human movement have generally been regarded as a constraint to upper limb motor performance. However, several recent studies have suggested that this phenomenon might be utilized in the rehabilitation of individuals with motor disability due to unilateral brain injury. In this paper the efficacy of such a rehabilitative approach is explored by reviewing: (i) examples of symmetry tendencies in healthy individuals, (ii) the potential neurophysiological mechanisms responsible for inter-limb coupling, and (iii) recent studies which have directly assessed the effects of inter-limb coupling on individuals with unilateral brain injury. METHOD: A thorough review of current published evidence was conducted utilizing various electronic search engines (Medline, PreMedline, Embase and Cinahl). Studies included those that focused on symmetry tendencies and/or inter-limb coupling in the upper limbs with a particular emphasis placed on studies of individuals with unilateral brain injury. RESULTS: Based on the current literature it seems that motor function of the affected upper limb in individuals with unilateral brain injury can be improved through a rehabilitation approach that incorporates inter-limb coupling. CONCLUSION: This approach should be considered as an adjunct to more common rehabilitation strategies with future research aimed at determining the most effective means of employing this paradigm.