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Int J Neurosci. 1994 Oct;78(3-4):157-66.

Mental practice of motor skills used in poststroke rehabilitation has own effects on central nervous activation.

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  • 1Friedrich Schiller University, Institute of Physiology, Jena, FR Germany.

Abstract

In the last years it has been shown that the use of the EMG triggered electrical myostimulation (ETEM) brings good results in poststroke rehabilitation. It has been hypothesized that the relearning effects obtained by means of ETEM are due to the reinstatement of proprioceptive feedback. However, the technique is most powerful if imagination of motor acts (the so called mental practice) is used as an initial part of ETEM. Since mental practice in healthy people leads to central nervous activation processes as well as to an improvement of motor skills, we investigated the effects of mental practice alone on central nervous activity by means of EEG in stroke patients. Twelve left-sided hemiplegic patients who underwent a specific poststroke rehabilitation treatment were requested to perform a simple arm movement sequence. In the following mental practice period the patients were requested to imagine the same sequence without any real movement. EEG background activity was recorded during baseline and imagination periods. After the calculation of z-transformed power values within the alpha and beta-1 band, differences between rest and imagination periods were evaluated for significance. Stroke patients showed significant decreases of alpha as well as beta-1 power during mental practice in comparison to the rest period. These changes are similar to those obtained in healthy subjects. Central alpha power diminished only during imagination of the contralateral arm. This phenomenon as well as the decrease of beta-1 power in central derivation were also obtained during real motor performance and might indicate an activation of the sensorimotor cortex. In accordance with the hypothesis of internal feedback mechanisms, this activation is a necessary prerequisite for motor learning during mental practice. We conclude that mental practice of motor skills might have own effects in poststroke rehabilitation.

PMID:
7883452
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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