Talk Abstract (Dr. Paula Silva, 2022 Symposium)

A Dynamical Lens on Neuro-motor Impairments

Dr. Paula Silva, University of Connecticut, US

The neuromotor impairments of individuals with a variety of pathological conditions (e.g., cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinson's disease) are characterized by deviations of action patterns from neurotypical norms during standardized task conditions. For example, stroke-related deficits in postural control are characterized by differences in the amount and structure of whole-body sway demonstrated by individuals with stroke compared to healthy, age-matched controls. The (often unarticulated) assumption is that neuromotor impairments are intrinsic to the individual and constitute context-independent manifestations of pathology. In this talk, I will challenge this assumption. In particular, I will present evidence that deviations of action patterns of individuals with stroke and cerebral palsy from neurotypical norms are dynamically shaped by (and can be construed as adaptations to) task and contextual demands. Importantly, data suggests that indices of adaptability of action patterns to these demands—obtained with linear and non-linear analysis tools—are markers of performance success. Implications for the design of rehabilitation practices will be discussed.