Article Text

Short Report
Post-stroke fatigue: a problem of altered corticomotor control?
  1. A Kuppuswamy,
  2. E V Clark,
  3. K S Sandhu,
  4. J C Rothwell,
  5. N S Ward
  1. Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, UCL, London, UK.
  1. Correspondence to Dr Annapoorna Kuppuswamy, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, UCL Box 146, 4th floor, Clinical Neurosciences building, 33, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK; a.kuppuswamy{at}


Objectives We recently showed that diminished motor cortical excitability is associated with high levels of post-stroke fatigue. Motor cortex excitability impacts movement parameters such as reaction and movement times. We predicted that one or both would be influenced by the presence of post-stroke fatigue.

Methods 41 first-time stroke survivors (high fatigue n=21, Fatigue Severity Scale 7 (FSS-7) score >5; low fatigue n=20, FSS-7 score <3) participated in the study. Movement times, choice and simple reaction times were measured in all participants.

Results A three way ANOVA with fatigue (high and low), task (movement time, simple reaction time and choice reaction time) and hand (affected and unaffected) as the three factors, revealed a significant difference between affected (but not unaffected) hand movement times in the high compared to low fatigue groups. Reaction times, however, were not different between the high-fatigue and low-fatigue groups in either the affected or unaffected hand.

Conclusions Previously, we showed that motor cortex excitability is lower in patients with high post-stroke fatigue. Our current findings suggest that post-stroke fatigue (1) is a problem of movement speed (possibly a consequence of diminished motor cortex excitability) and not movement preparation, and (2) may have a focal origin confined to the lesioned hemisphere. We suggest that low motor cortex excitability in the lesioned hemisphere is a viable therapeutic target in post-stroke fatigue.


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