Non-dominant arm training improves functional performance and modifies spontaneous arm selection.

Open Access
Author:
Dunn, Alexandra Marie
Graduate Program:
Kinesiology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 29, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Robert L Sainburg, Thesis Advisor
  • Mark Latash, Committee Member
  • Stephen Jacob Piazza, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • handedness
  • handedness training
  • hand function
  • arm selection
Abstract:
The goal of this study is to investigate whether dexterity training of healthy subjects’ non-dominant arm will lead to functional improvements in unilateral performance, and whether such improvements will lead to an increase in non-dominant arm selection during a reaching task. Before and after training, subjects used both arms to perform four functional tests, in addition to an arm selection task used to measure how frequently subjects chose their non-dominant arm to reach towards a large array of targets. Between these pre- and post-tests, we trained participants’ non-dominant arm for four weeks in a paradigm that employed various exercises emphasizing object placement and manipulation, and speed and accuracy of arm movements. The dominant arm received no training. After training, the non-dominant arm was significantly improved on three of the four functional tests, while the dominant arm showed no significant changes. Additionally, the non-dominant arm was chosen significantly more after training during the post-test than during the pre-test. These results were consistent with our predictions and indicate that both functional and arm-selection changes are possible with general training of the non-dominant arm in right-handed individuals. The fact that non-dominant arm training can influence both performance and spontaneous arm selection has important implications for the rehabilitation of unilateral motor disorders, such as stroke or amputation.