This Study Highlights The Link Between Attention Control and Movement in Hemiplegia

Poor mental focus may be a contributing to the paralysis that commonly occurs after a stroke, according to a new study.

A person who has had a stroke, when the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot, often experiences some level of paralysis on one side of the body. This condition is known as hemiplegia. While hemiplegia can be caused by a variety of different complications, strokes are one of the most common culprits. The dexterity and strength in the limbs can be severely affected. To learn more about hemiplegia, click here. 

The current understanding is that the paralysis is caused primarily due to the damage sustained by the brain’s network of neurons during a stroke. However, research conducted by the Imperial College London is demonstrating that the situation could be more complex, and suggests that the brain’s capability in focusing on a task, known as attention control, could play a much more significant role than previously acknowledged.

In the study, researchers developed a simple computer game as a way to test the attention control ability of patients who had the tell tale signs of hemiplegia. The patients all showed signs that there attention control was less than normal, which suggests that it is essential for strength and physical precision. The game was played using a controller that measured grip strength. As part of the game, the patients were expected to change their grip strength. Per the rules of the game, the subjects were told to focus on a particular object on the screen, but there were other components that appeared as a way to distract the player and test their ability to do so.
The study results suggest that doctors should be looking more closely for damage to the regions of the brain that are responsible for attention control after a stroke event. This should increase the accuracy of patient assessment and improve the outcomes of rehabilitation. In essence, the research is connecting the dots between the mental and physical impairments that are common after a stroke.

Clearly, physical tasks, just like mental ones, require the brain to dedicate some of its capacity to the process, especially when great strength or precise dexterity are required. Read the source article at myScience UK.

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