Motor control of functional tasks: a review

The determinant of successful rehabilitation for patients with neurological conditions is the ability to locate the source of a particular problem and to understand the interactions of many components to ensure efficient task-oriented movement. The sensory systems gather information about the location and nature of objects in the environment and spatial position of body parts in order to plan the movement and maintain balance. The information gathered by the sensory receptors is integrated and synthesized in the frontal cortex. The premotor cortex designs the components of movement required for possible alternatives from which the basal ganglia select the most appropriate movement pattern. The cerebellum provides the timing for each component of the selected pattern that is executed by the motor cortex through the descending pathways and peripheral structures. Understanding the function of each unit of the nervous system and its contribution to motor control helps in matching physical manifestations of diseases to the area of injury and vice versa. It also helps with a problem-solving approach to rehabilitation of patients with neurological conditions.
Treatment of neurological conditions and rehabilitation of survivors are dependent on identifying the source of injury or disease in the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex system with several units that interact to control the functions of the body. Control of movement is vital since it is necessary for daily activities and ensures maintenance of the quality of life. Understanding the interactions of various units that bring about movement is essential for addressing problems of patients more efficiently.
Goal-directed movement occurs through the interaction of three factors: an individual, a task to be carried out and the environment in which the task takes place [1]. To carry out a particular task, the individual gathers information from the relevant environmental features through the sensory systems; this information is used to plan appropriate movement strategies required to achieve the task. The sensory systems provide information about the state of the body (relation of body parts to each other and position of the body in space) and relationship of the body to objects in the environment that are required for the execution of the task. Integration of sensory information into meaningful information is essential for planning the movement strategy needed to perform a desired action [2]; therefore, cognitive input is crucial at this stage of movement planning. The brain utilizes the processed information to issue commands for activation of specific movement components, which linked together in the appropriate spatial and temporal sequence, make up the desired task [3, 4].
There are many functional activities that are performed frequently during daily life. Turning around to interact with the environment is an example of such functional tasks. Glaister et al [5]. filmed 11 subjects from the waist down as they walked from one office to another, from an office to a parking lot, through a convenience store and through a cafeteria. The results have shown that the steps involving turning constituted 8%, 35%, 45% and 50% of all the steps taken during each task,, respectively. This review is to explore motor control of goal-directed movement; moreover, the control of turning will be explained, whenever appropriate.

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Vincent Pol University in Lublin