Optimizing Muscle Power After Stroke: a Cross-sectional Study
Background Stroke remains a leading cause of disability worldwide and results in muscle performance deficits and limitations in activity performance. Rehabilitation aims to address muscle dysfunction in an effort to improve activity and participation. While muscle strength has an impact on activity performance, muscle power has recently been acknowledged as contributing significantly to activity performance in this population. Therefore, rehabilitation efforts should include training of muscle power. However, little is known about what training parameters, or load, optimize muscle power performance in people with stroke. The purpose of this study was to investigate lower limb muscle power performance at differing loads in people with and without stroke. Methods A cross-sectional study design investigated muscle power performance in 58 hemiplegic and age matched control participants. Lower limb muscle power was measured using a modified leg press machine at 30, 50 and 70% of one repetition maximum (1-RM) strength. Results There were significant differences in peak power between involved and uninvolved limbs of stroke participants and between uninvolved and control limbs. Peak power was greatest when pushing against a load of 30% of 1RM for involved, uninvolved and control limbs. Involved limb peak power irrespective of load (Mean:220 ± SD:134 W) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than the uninvolved limb (Mean:466 ± SD:220 W). Both the involved and uninvolved limbs generated significantly lower peak power (p < 0.05) than the control limb (Mean:708 ± SD:289 W). Conclusions Significant power deficits were seen in both the involved and uninvolved limbs after stroke. Maximal muscle power was produced when pushing against lighter loads. Further intervention studies are needed to determine whether training of both limbs at lighter loads (and higher velocities) are preferable to improve both power and activity performance after stroke.