Arm use after left or right hemiparesis is influenced by hand preference.
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Despite strong evidence for hand preference and its impact on motor performance, its influence on stroke rehabilitation has not been routinely considered. Previous research demonstrates that patients with hemiparetic stroke use their ipsilesional, nonparetic arm 5 to 6 times more frequently than their paretic arm, but it is unknown if such use varies with laterality of hemiparesis. The purpose of our study was to determine if the right arm is used more frequently in right-handed patients with stroke.We assessed relative use of the right, left, and both arms with wrist accelerometers on patients with unilateral, paretic stroke matched for degree of paresis (12 with right hemisphere damage, 17 with left hemisphere damage) and 25 neurologically intact control participants as they performed the Arm Motor Ability Test.We showed: (1) ipsilesional arm use was greater after right hemisphere damage than left hemisphere damage; (2) the left hemisphere damage group used both arms together more often than the right hemisphere damage group but less often than the control group; and (3) both stroke groups used their contralesional, paretic arm to the same degree.These findings emphasize the influence of hand preference on arm use after stroke for the ipsilesional but not the contralesional arm. Although both stroke groups used their ipsilesional more than their contralesional arm, the difference was greater for the right hemisphere damage group who used their ipsilesional arm 4 times more frequently than their contralesional arm, whereas the left hemisphere damage group used their ipsilesional arm 2 times more frequently than their contralesional arm.