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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A multimodal approach to understanding motor impairment and disability after stroke.

  • Author(s): Burke, Erin
  • Dodakian, Lucy
  • See, Jill
  • McKenzie, Alison
  • Riley, Jeff D
  • Le, Vu
  • Cramer, Steven C
  • et al.

Many different measures have been found to be related to behavioral outcome after stroke. Preclinical studies emphasize the importance of brain injury and neural function. However, the measures most important to human outcomes remain uncertain, in part because studies often examine one measure at a time or enroll only mildly impaired patients. The current study addressed this by performing multimodal evaluation in a heterogeneous population. Patients (n = 36) with stable arm paresis 3-6 months post-stroke were assessed across 6 categories of measures related to stroke outcome: demographics/medical history, cognitive/mood status, genetics, neurophysiology, brain injury, and cortical function. Multivariate modeling identified measures independently related to an impairment-based outcome (arm Fugl-Meyer motor score). Analyses were repeated (1) identifying measures related to disability (modified Rankin Scale score), describing independence in daily functions and (2) using only patients with mild deficits. Across patients, greater impairment was related to measures of injury (reduced corticospinal tract integrity) and neurophysiology (absence of motor evoked potential). In contrast, (1) greater disability was related to greater injury and poorer cognitive status (MMSE score) and (2) among patients with mild deficits, greater impairment was related to cortical function (greater contralesional motor/premotor cortex activation). Impairment after stroke is most related to injury and neurophysiology, consistent with preclinical studies. These relationships vary according to the patient subgroup or the behavioral endpoint studied. One potential implication of these results is that choice of biomarker or stratifying variable in a clinical stroke study might vary according to patient characteristics.

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