Sideways reaching with the unaffected arm while seated is a component of everyday activities and can be a challenging task early after stroke. Kinematic analysis of a lateral reach task may provide potential rehabilitation strategies.
The authors examined the difference between people with stroke and healthy controls in the movement sequence of head, trunk, and pelvis, as well as the difference in angle at maximum reach and peak velocity for each body segment during reach and return.
Twenty-four people within 12 weeks of a stroke and 20 healthy subjects performed a standardized lateral reach. Using CODAmotion, movement sequence was determined and angles and peak velocities were calculated.
When reaching, people with stroke moved their pelvis first, followed by the trunk and head, whereas healthy controls started with their head and then moved their trunk and pelvis. Patients achieved significantly smaller angles at maximum reach compared with healthy subjects for all body segments and lower peak velocities during the reach (for head, trunk, and pelvis) and the return (for head and trunk).
Lateral reaching to the unaffected side early after stroke revealed a different pattern than normal and patients reached less far and moved at a slower speed. Specific training strategies to improve reaching are needed.