A rehabilitative regimen augmented by 60 minutes of mental practice renders a greater functional impact than therapy alone in patients with chronic stroke with stable, mild hemiparesis, say authors of an article available March 22 online in Clinical Rehabilitation.
Twenty-nine participants with chronic stroke and exhibiting stable, mild hemiparesis were given 30-minute rehabilitative sessions 3 days a week for 10 weeks, emphasizing affected upper extremity use during valued activities. Directly after these sessions, randomly selected participants were given audiotaped mental practice for 20, 40, or 60 minutes. Participants assigned to a control group received the same therapy as the mental practice groups, and an audiotaped sham intervention directly after therapy sessions. Main outcome measures were the Fugl-Meyer (FM) motor assessment and Action Research Arm Test (ARAT).
No pre-existing differences were found between groups on any demographic variable or movement scale. On FM, mental practice duration significantly predicted pretesting to post change, with increasing duration related to larger FM score increases (5.4 point score increase for the 60-minute duration group). On ARAT, a nonsignificant trend was seen, favoring the 20-minute dosing condition (4.5 point increase). Importantly, regardless of dosing condition, participants who were administered mental practice exhibited markedly larger score changes on both FM and ARAT than participants not receiving mental practice.
APTA member Kari Dunning, PT, PhD, coauthored this study.