Contralesional arm preference depends on hemisphere of damage and target location in unilateral stroke patients

Saandeep Mani, Andrzej Przybyla, David C. Good, Kathleen Y. Haaland, Robert L. Sainburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background. Previous research has shown that during simulated activities of daily living, right-handed stroke patients use their contralesional arm more after left- than right-hemisphere stroke. These findings were attributed to a hand preference effect. However, these decisions about when to use the contralesional arm may be modulated by where in the work space the task is performed, a factor that could be used in physical rehabilitation to influence recovery by decreasing learned nonuse. Objective. To examine how target location and side of stroke influences arm selection choices for simple reaching movements. Methods. A total of 14 right-handed stroke patients (7 with left-hemisphere and 7 with right-hemisphere damage [RHD]), with similar degrees of hemiparesis (Fugl-Meyer motor score), and 16 right-handed controls participated in this experiment. In a pseudorandom fashion, 32 targets were presented throughout the reachable horizontal plane work space, and the participants were asked to select 1 hand to reach the target on each trial. Results. The group with lefthemisphere damage chose their contralesional arm significantly more often than the group with RHD. Patients with RHD also chose their left (contralesional) arm significantly less often than the control group. However, these patterns of choice were most pronounced in the center of the workspace. Conclusion. Both the side of hemisphere damage and work space location played a significant role in the choice of whether to use the contralesional arm for reaching. These findings have implications for structuring rehabilitation for unilateral stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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