Task Oriented Training Activities Post Stroke Will Produce Measurable Alterations in Brain Plasticity Concurrent with Skill Improvement

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Topics in stroke rehabilitation








Accelerated skill acquisition program; Corticomotor excitability; Stroke; Transcranial magnetic stimulation


BACKGROUND: Task-oriented training with upper extremity (UE) skilled movements has been established as a method to regain function post stroke. Although improved UE function has been shown after this type of therapy, there is minimal evidence that brain plasticity is associated with this training. The accelerated skill acquisition program (ASAP) is an example of an approach for promoting UE function using targeting movements. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of a single 2-hour session of ASAP in individuals with stroke on measures of brain plasticity as represented by corticospinal excitability (CE) and determine associations with reach-to-grasp (RTG) performance. METHODS: Eighteen post-acute stroke patients were randomized to two groups. Experimental group (n = 9) underwent ASAP for 2 hours, while the control group (n = 9) received dose equivalent usual and customary care. Both groups were evaluated for CE and RTG performance prior to the session and then four times after training: immediately, 1 day, 6 days, and 12 days. RESULTS: Significant alterations in CE were found in the peak-to-peak of Motor Evoked Potential amplitude of elbow and wrist extensor muscles in the lesioned hemisphere. The experimental group also demonstrated improved execution (shortened total movement time, TMT), feed-forward mechanism (deceleration time, DT) and planning (lengthened relative time to maximum hand aperture, RTApmax) compared to the control group. CONCLUSION: Alterations in brain plasticity occur concurrently with improvements in RTG performance in post-acute stroke patients with mild impairment after a single 2-hour session of task-oriented training and persist for at least 12 days.


Exercise and Nutrition Sciences