Publication: Physiological evaluation of gait disturbances post stroke
A large proportion of stroke survivors have to deal with problems in mobility. Proper evaluations must be undertaken to understand the sensorimotor impairments underlying locomotor disorders post stroke, so that evidence-based interventions can be developed. The current electrophysiological, biomechanical, and imagery evaluations that provide insight into locomotor dysfunction post stroke, as well as their advantages and limitations, are reviewed in this paper. In particular, electrophysiological evaluations focus on the contrast of electromyographic patterns and integrity of spinal reflex pathways during perturbed and unperturbed locomotion between persons with stroke and healthy individuals. At a behavioral level, biomechanical evaluations that include temporal distance factors, kinematic and kinetic analyses, as well as the mechanical energy and metabolic cost, are useful when combined with electrophysiological measures for the interpretation of gait disturbances that are related to the control of the central nervous system or secondary to biomechanical constraints. Finally, current methods in imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation can provide further insight into cortical control of locomotion and the integrity of the corticospinal pathways.