Upper-extremity spinal reflex inhibition is reproducible and strongly related to grip force poststroke

Chetan P. Phadke, Christopher T. Robertson, Carolynn Patten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Impaired reflex regulation is assumed to contribute to upper-extremity motor impairment poststroke; however, the relationship between reflex inhibition and motor function remains unclear. To address this question, it is first necessary to determine the reproducibility of reflex responses. The objective of this study was to establish the test-retest reliability of flexor carpi radialis H-reflex inhibition in healthy control and stroke participants and investigate the correlation between H-reflex inhibition and grip strength. Materials and methods: Eighteen persons poststroke (mean ± SD: age 63 ± 13 years; 6 ± 5 years poststroke; 13 males) and 16 healthy controls (age: 62 ± 12 years) participated. Reflex inhibition was tested on 2 separate days by conditioning the H-reflex with radial nerve stimulation at two different interstimulus intervals: 13 ms (presynaptic Ia inhibition-PSI) and 0 ms (disynaptic inhibition). Pearson's and intraclass correlation coefficients {two-way mixed model-ICC (1, 2)}, and standard error of measurement (SEM) were calculated. Results: Relative reliability (ICCs) ranged from good to excellent (0.61-0.78). SEM was low (range 10-19%, stroke; 15-20%, healthy controls). Paretic grip strength and paretic limb PSI revealed a positive correlation (r = 0.70; p < 0.0125). Disynaptic inhibition and paretic grip strength were not correlated. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate reproducibility of reflex inhibition in individuals poststroke. Furthermore, we quantify smallest real differences, which provide an estimate of the magnitude of effect required to determine a meaningful change, exceeding measurement error. The correlation between PSI and grip strength suggests the potential contribution of PSI to grip force production and upper-extremity motor function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Disynaptic inhibition
  • H-reflex
  • Presynaptic inhibition
  • Reliability
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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