The nature and extent of upper limb associated reactions during walking in people with acquired brain injury

Michelle B. Kahn, Ross A. Clark, Gavin Williams, Kelly J. Bower, Megan Banky, John Olver, Benjamin F. Mentiplay

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Upper limb associated reactions (ARs) are common in people with acquired brain injury (ABI). Despite this, there is no gold-standard outcome measure and no kinematic description of this movement disorder. The aim of this study was to determine the upper limb kinematic variables most frequently affected by ARs in people with ABI compared with a healthy cohort at matched walking speed intention. Methods: A convenience sample of 36 healthy control adults (HCs) and 42 people with ABI who had upper limb ARs during walking were recruited and underwent assessment of their self-selected walking speed using the criterion-reference three dimensional motion analysis (3DMA) at Epworth Hospital, Melbourne. Shoulder flexion, abduction and rotation, elbow flexion, forearm rotation and wrist flexion were assessed. The mean angle, standard deviation (SD), peak joint angles and total joint angle range of motion (ROM) were calculated for each axis across the gait cycle. On a group level, ANCOVA was used to assess the between-group differences for each upper limb kinematic outcome variable. To quantify abnormality prevalence on an individual participant level, the percentage of ABI participants that were outside of the 95% confidence interval of the HC sample for each variable were calculated. Results: There were significant between-group differences for all elbow and shoulder abduction outcome variables (p < 0.01), most shoulder flexion variables (except for shoulder extension peak), forearm rotation SD and ROM and for wrist flexion ROM. Elbow flexion and shoulder abduction were the axes most frequently affected by ARs. Despite the elbow being the most prevalently affected (38/42, 90%), a large proportion of participants had abnormality, defined as ±1.96 SD of the HC mean, present at the shoulder (32/42, 76%), forearm (20/42, 48%) and wrist joints (10/42, 24%). Conclusion: This study provides valuable information on ARs, and highlights the need for clinical assessment of ARs to include all of the major joints of the upper limb. This may inform the development of a criterion-reference outcome measure or classification system specific to ARs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2019


  • Acquired brain injury
  • Associated reactions
  • Kinematics
  • Three-dimensional motion analysis
  • Upper limb

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