The choice of activity to improve finger extension of post-CVA patients is based on untested assumptions and hypotheses. In this study, using electromyography of the extrinsic finger muscles and electrogoniometry of wrist and finger joints, the effects of five types of exercise on the finger extension of post-CVA patients were documented.
Results indicated that resisted and rapid exercises recruited high percentages of output of all three muscles. Slow, unresisted extension exercises preferentially recruited the extensor digitorum. No exercise caused significant immediate changes in range of motion (ROM), flexor/extensor balance, time required to open the hand, or level of activity of the extensor digitorum during opening of the hand. Resisted grasp did not limit the patients’ ability to extend the fingers. Variability in percent of motor output among the subjects of this study indicates the need to monitor each patient during therapy.