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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2009 Sep;51(9):690-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2009.03371.x.

Motor imagery training in hemiplegic cerebral palsy: a potentially useful therapeutic tool for rehabilitation.

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Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Converging evidence indicates that motor deficits in cerebral palsy (CP) are related not only to problems with execution, but also to impaired motor planning. Current rehabilitation mainly focuses on alleviating compromised motor execution. Motor imagery is a promising method of training the more 'cognitive' aspects of motor behaviour, and may, therefore, be effective in facilitating motor planning in patients with CP. In this review first we present the specific motor planning problems in CP followed by a discussion of motor imagery and its use in clinical practice. Second, we present the steps to be taken before motor imagery can be used for rehabilitation of upper limb functioning in CP. Motor imagery training has been shown to be a useful addition to existing rehabilitation protocols for poststroke rehabilitation. No such study has been conducted in CP. The age at which children can reliably use motor imagery, as well as the specific way in which motor imagery training needs to be implemented, must be researched before motor imagery training can be employed in children with CP. Based on the positive results for poststroke rehabilitation, and in light of the motor problems in CP, motor imagery training may be a valuable additional tool for rehabilitation in CP.

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