Proprioceptive signals from peripheral mechanoreceptors form the basis for bodily perception and are known to be essential for motor control. However we still have an incomplete understanding of how proprioception differs between joints, whether it differs among the various degrees-of-freedom (DoFs) within a particular joint, and how such differences affect motor control and learning.We here introduce a robot-aided method to objectively measure proprioceptive function: specifically, we systematically mapped wrist proprioceptive acuity across the three DoFs of the wrist/hand complex with the aim to characterize the wrist position sense. Thirty healthy young adults performed an ipsilateral active joint position matching task with their dominant wrist using a haptic robotic exoskeleton. Our results indicate that the active wrist position sense acuity is anisotropic across the joint, with the abduction/ adduction DoF having the highest acuity (the error of acuity for flexion/extension is 4.64 ± 0.24°; abduction/adduction: 3.68 ± 0.32°; supination/pronation: 5.15 ± 0.37°) and they also revealed that proprioceptive acuity decreases for smaller joint displacements. We believe this knowledge is imperative in a clinical scenario when assessing proprioceptive deficits and for understanding how such sensory deficits relate to observable motor impairments.
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© 2016 Marini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.