Factors Contributing to Motor Impairment and Recovery after Stroke

A. A. Heddings, K. M. Friel, E. J. Plautz, S. Barbay, R. J. Nudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The goal of the present study was to examine factors affecting motor impairment and recovery in a primate model of cortical infarction. Microelectrode stimulation techniques were used to delineate the hand representation in the primary motor cortex (M1). Microinfarcts affecting ~30% of the hand representation were made by electrocoagulation of surface vessels. Electrophysiologic procedures were repeated at 1 month after the infarct to examine changes in motor map topography. Before the infarct, and at ~ 1 week (early period) and 1 month (late period) after the infarct, manual performance was assessed on a reach-and-retrieval task that required skilled use of the digits. Contrary to the expected outcome, early impairment was inversely related to the amount of digit representation destroyed by the infarct. That is, animals with less involvement of the M1 digit area demonstrated the greatest motor deficit in the early postinfarct period. In addition, improvement in motor performance between early and late postinfarct periods was directly related to a decrease in the extent of the digit + wrist/forearm area in the final postinfarct map. These results suggest that specific aspects of motor-map remodeling are expressions of adaptive mechanisms that underlie functional recovery after stroke. Further, they suggest that the adaptive mechanisms underlying postinjury recovery differ in detail from those that operate in normal motor learning. The potential role of compensatory mechanisms in these phenomena is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000


  • Hand function
  • Motor cortex
  • Neural plasticity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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