Motor imagery training improves precision of an upper limb movement in patients with hemiparesis

Luiza Grabherr*, Corinne Jola, Gilberto Berra, Robert Theiler, Fred W. Mast

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)
    306 Downloads (Pure)


    BACKGROUND: In healthy participants, beneficial effects of motor imagery training on movement execution have been shown for precision, strength, and speed. In the clinical context, it is still debated whether motor imagery provides an effective rehabilitation technique in patients with motor deficits.

    OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of two different types of movement training: motor imagery vs. motor execution.

    METHODS: Twenty-five patients with hemiparesis were assigned to one of two training groups: the imagery or the execution-training group. Both groups completed a baseline test before they received six training sessions, each of which was followed by a test session. Using a novel and precisely quantifiable test, we assessed how accurately patients performed an upper limb movement.

    RESULTS: Both training groups improved performance over the six test sessions but the improvement was significantly larger in the imagery group. That is, the imagery group was able to perform more precise movements than the execution group after the sixth training session while there was no difference at the beginning of the training.

    CONCLUSIONS: The results provide evidence for the benefit of motor imagery training in patients with hemiparesis and thus suggest the integration of cognitive training in conventional physiotherapy practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)157-166
    Number of pages10
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2015


    • Mental practice
    • Rehabilitation
    • Physical therapy
    • Stroke


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