Content » Vol 47, Issue 3

Original report

Influence of motor imagery training on gait rehabilitation in sub-acute stroke: A randomized controlled trial

Kristine M. Oostra, Anne Oomen , Guy Vanderstraeten, Guy Vingerhoets
Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (P5), Ghent University Hospital, BE-9000 Gent, Belgium. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1908


Objective: To evaluate the effect of mental practice on motor imagery ability and assess the influence of motor imagery on gait rehabilitation in sub-acute stroke.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Subjects: A total of 44 patients with gait dysfunction after first-ever stroke were randomly allocated to a motor imagery training group and a muscle relaxation group.
Methods: The motor imagery group received 6 weeks of daily mental practice. The relaxation group received a muscle relaxation programme of equal duration. Motor imagery ability and lower limb function were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks of treatment. Motor imagery ability was tested using a questionnaire and mental chronometry test. Gait outcome was evaluated using a 10-m walk test (near transfer) and the Fugl-Meyer assessment (far transfer).
Results: Significant between-group differences were found, with the vividness of kinesthetic imagery and the walking test results improving more in the motor imagery group than in the muscle relaxation group. There was no group interaction effect for the far transfer outcome score.
Conclusion: Motor imagery training may have a beneficial task-specific effect on gait function in sub-acute stroke; however, longer term confirmation is required.

Lay Abstract


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