Accuracy of reproducing hand position when using active compared with passive movement

Yocheved Laufer, Shraga Hocherman, Ruth Dickstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Evaluating proprioception is relevant to physical rehabilitation because of its significance in motor control. One method of proprioceptive testing involves having subjects either imitate or point at a joint position or movement which was presented via a passive movement. However, as the muscle spindles are subject to central fusimotor control, the proprioceptive system may be better-tuned to movements created by active muscular contraction than to passive movements. The objective of the present study was to determine whether accuracy of reproducing hand position is dependent on whether proprioceptive input is obtained via an active or a passive movement. METHOD: Thirty-nine healthy volunteers (mean age (+/- SD) 24.6 (+/- 3.6) years) participated in the study. Subjects' right hands, which were obscured from view, were acoustically guided to five targets on a digitizer tablet with either an active or passive upper extremity movement. Subjects were then asked to reproduce the targets' location by either reaching to them with the unseen hand or by use of a laser beam. Distance from target and angular deviations were calculated in both absolute and relative terms. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed for each variable followed by predetermined contrasts. RESULTS: Comparison between the active and passive conditions when reconstruction of target location was guided kinaesthetically indicates significant differences in absolute distance, range and angular deviation. The comparison when reconstruction of target location was guided visually indicates significant differences in absolute distance, absolute angle and angular deviation. CONCLUSIONS: The ability to reproduce hand position accurately is enhanced when position is encoded by active upper extremity movement compared with passive movement. The results have implications for the design of strategies for evaluating as well as treating patients with impaired proprioception and limited movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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