Learned nonuse is a major problem in upper limb (UL) rehabilitation after stroke. Among the various factors that contribute to learned nonuse, recent studies have focused on body representation of the paretic limb in the brain. We previously developed a method to measure body-specific attention, as a marker of body representation of the paretic limb and revealed a decline in body-specific attention to the paretic limb in chronic stroke patients by a cross-sectional study. However, longitudinal changes in body-specific attention and paretic arm use in daily life (real-world arm use) from the onset to the chronic phase, and their relationship, remain unknown. Here, in a longitudinal, prospective, observational study, we sought to elucidate the longitudinal changes in body-specific attention to the paretic limb and real-world arm use, and their relationship, by using accelerometers and psychophysical methods, respectively, in 25 patients with subacute stroke. Measurements were taken at baseline (TBL), 2 weeks (T2w), 1 month (T1M), 2 months (T2M), and 6 months (T6M) after enrollment. UL function was measured using the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) and Action Research Arm Test (ARAT). Real-world arm use was measured using accelerometers on both wrists. Body-specific attention was measured using a visual detection task. The UL function and real-world arm use improved up to T6M. Longitudinal changes in body-specific attention were most remarkable at T1M. Changes in body-specific attention up to T1M correlated positively with changes in real-world arm use up to T6M, and from T1M to T6M, and the latter more strongly correlated with changes in real-world arm use. Changes in real-world arm use up to T2M correlated positively with changes in FMA up to T2M and T6M. No correlation was found between body-specific attention and FMA scores. Thus, these results suggest that improved body-specific attention to the paretic limb during the early phase contributes to increasing long-term real-world arm use and that increased real-world use is associated with the recovery of UL function. Our results may contribute to the development of rehabilitation strategies to enhance adaptive changes in body representation in the brain and increase real-world arm use after stroke.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience