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Abstract

It has been proposed that somatosensory input in the form of peripheral nerve stimulation can influence functional measures of motor performance. We studied the effects of median nerve stimulation on pinch muscle strength (a function mediated predominantly by median nerve innervated muscles) in the affected hand of chronic stroke patients. A 2-hour period of median nerve stimulation elicited an increase in pinch strength that outlasted the stimulation period. The improvement in muscle strength correlated with stimulus intensity and was identified in the absence of motor training. These results suggest that somatosensory stimulation may be a promising adjuvant to rehabilitation of the motor deficits in stroke patients.