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Recent findings on motor lateralization have revealed consistent differences in the control strategies of the dominant and nondominant hemisphere/limb systems that could have implications for hemiplegic stroke patients. Studies in stroke patients have demonstrated deficiencies in the ipsilesional arm that reflect these distinctions; patients with right-hemisphere damage tend to show deficits in positional accuracy, and patients with left-hemisphere damage show deficits in trajectory control. Such deficits have been shown to impede functional performance; yet patients with severe dominant-side hemiplegia must often use the nondominant arm as the primary manipulator for activities of daily living. Nevertheless, the nondominant arm may not spontaneously become efficient as a dominant manipulator, as indicated by the persistence of deficits in chronic stroke patients. More research is necessary to determine whether motor therapy can facilitate a more effective transition of this arm from a nondominant to a dominant controller.


This article was originally published in Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, volume 43, issue 3, in 2006. DOI: 10.1682/JRRD.2005.01.0013

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