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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2010 March;46(1):19-25


language: English

Mental practice is effective in upper limb recovery after stroke: a randomized single-blind cross-over study

Riccio I. 1, 2, Iolascon G. 1, Barillari M. R. 3, Gimigliano R. 1, 2, Gimigliano F. 1

1 Department of Orthopedics, Traumatology, Rehabilitation and Plastic-SurgerySecond University of Naples, Naples, Italy; 2 Intensive Neuro-Rehabilitation Care Unit, Casa di Cura Santa Maria del Pozzo Somma Vesuviana, Naples, Italy; 3 Department of Audiology and Phoniatry, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy


AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the role of mental practice (MP) in functional recovery of upper limbs in stroke patients.
METHODS: Thirty-six hemiparetic stroke patients (15 females and 21 males) were enrolled in a randomized single blind cross-over study. Patients were randomly divided into two groups, (A and B) each comprising 18 patients. Patients in group A underwent the conventional neuro-rehabilitation protocol (therapeutic exercise and occupational therapy) for three weeks (3 hours a day, 5 days a week) and in the following 3 weeks, they received an additional 60 minutes of MP training. Patients in group B, instead, underwent, in the first 3 weeks, the rehabilitation program plus MP training and in the following 3 weeks, only the conventional neurorehabilitation program. All patients were evaluated at baseline (T0), at 3 weeks (T1) and at 6 weeks (T2) with the Motricity Index (MI) and the Arm Functional Test (AFT).
RESULTS: At baseline (T0) there were no significant differences at MI and AFT between the two groups. At T1 the differences between the two groups became significant. At T2 the difference was once again minimal.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that MP could be used to complement to the conventional neurorehabilitative treatments usually prescribed for post-stroke neuromotor recovery. However, there is still much to be tested and discussed regarding the role that MP might play in the treatment of neurological patients.

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