Applying Principles of Motor Control to Rehabilitation Technologies



Research into the neural control of movement has elucidated important principles that can provide guidelines to rehabilitation professionals for enhancing recovery of motor function in stroke patients. In this chapter, we elaborate four major principles of motor control that have been derived from this research: optimal control, impedance control, neural representations of movement, and motor lateralization. Research on optimal control has indicated that two major categories of cost contribute to motor planning: explicit task-level costs, such as movement accuracy and speed, and implicit costs, such as energy and movement variability. Impedance control refers to neural mechanisms that modulate rapid sensorimotor circuits, such as reflexes, in order to impede perturbations that cannot be anticipated prior to movement. Research on neural representations has indicated that movements are represented in at least two different types of coordinate systems: an extrinsic coordinate frame describing the space outside the body and an intrinsic reference frame describing the relative positions and movements of the body segments relative to one another. Finally, research on motor lateralization has indicated that different aspects of motor control have been specialized to the two cerebral hemispheres. In this chapter, we discuss the neurobiological basis of these four principles and elaborate the implications for designing and implementing ­occupational and physical therapy treatment for movement deficits in stroke patients.


Motor control Optimal control Impedance control Motor lateralization Neural representation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Kinesiology and NeurologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Research Service 151New Mexico VA Healthcare SystemAlbuquerqueUSA

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