Researchers from the Department of Rehabilitation, Laval University and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Quebec City, ran a controlled, clinical trial examining the potential of using "mental practice" (MP) to promote the learning of 2 mobility tasks in people who suffered a stroke.
Twelve patients were trained with MP to increase putting their weight on the affected limb (called loading) while standing up from a chair and sitting down. Vertical forces were recorded using force plates under each foot and the chair. Changes in the loading of the affected limb and in task duration, immediately after one training session and 24 hours later, served as outcomes.
After training, the loading of the affected limb had increased (P < 0.001) during standing up (16.2%) and sitting down (17.9%), and the improvement remained significant 24 hours later, indicating a learning effect. In contrast, the speed at which they were able to stand up and sit down did not change with this training. The results indicate that, in the early stage of learning with MP, changes in limb-loading strategies are a more sensitive measure of performance than is speed.
Citation: Malouin F, Richards CL, Doyon J, Desrosiers J, Belleville S.Training mobility tasks after stroke with combined mental and physical practice: a feasibility study. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2004 Jun; 18 (2): pages 66-75. firstname.lastname@example.org