[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: A preview tracking task has been developed which has particular application to neurological assessment and rehabilitation. Generated and monitored by a graphic display computer, it permits accurate global quantification of the upper-limb sensory-motor system. The incorporation of 'preview' into the tracking task is considered to significantly increase its effectiveness and relevance in relation to normal daily activities. Applied to three groups of normal subjects, several features of normal psychomotor performance and learning were identified or verified: hand dominance is not significant in overall arm control; learning does not completely plateau; increase in age (15-59 years) results in only a minor overall decrement in performance; an initial wide performance distribution decreases dramatically in subsequent sessions. Applied to brain-damaged patients, particularly head injury or stroke, the preview tracking task allows assessment at regular intervals enabling sensory-motor recovery curves to be generated. The potential of this technique, to help determine the efficacy of therapeutic procedures on the recovery process, is illustrated with the presentation of results from three brain-damaged patients demonstrating zero, significant and disjointed recovery of sensory-motor function. The usefulness of the preview tracking task can be expanded by combination with a less frequently applied but more component specific neurological assessment battery.
International rehabilitation medicine 02/1981; 3(2):71-83.