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Jul 09, 2008

Using mental practice in stroke rehabilitation: a framework

Using mental practice in stroke rehabilitation: a framework.

Clin Rehabil. 2008 Jul;22(7):579-91

Authors: Braun S, Kleynen M, Schols J, Schack T, Beurskens A, Wade D

Introduction: Motor imagery and mental practice are getting increased attention in neurological rehabilitation. Several different mental practice intervention protocols have been used in studies on its effect on recovery in stroke rehabilitation. The content of the intervention protocols itself is rarely discussed or questioned.Objective: To give a practical framework of how mental practice could be integrated into therapy, drawing on available evidence and theory. The aim of the treatment programme described is to enhance both the patient's physical performance and their empowerment and self-determination.The framework: Based on evidence from sports rehabilitation and our own experiences the framework will eventually be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Five steps are described to teach and upgrade the patient's imagery technique: (1) assess mental capacity to learn imagery technique; (2) establish the nature of mental practice; (3) teach imagery technique; (4) embed and monitor imagery technique; (5) develop self-generated treatments. The description is not, however, a recipe that should be followed precisely. It leaves enough room to tailor the mental practice intervention to the specific individual possibilities, skills and needs of the patient in accordance with evidence-based practice.Discussion: Different aspects of the described protocol are discussed and compared with experiences from sports and evidence available in rehabilitation.

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