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Braz J Phys Ther. 2013 Nov-Dec;17(6):564-71. doi: 10.1590/S1413-35552012005000123. Epub 2013 Nov 1.

The addition of functional task-oriented mental practice to conventional physical therapy improves motor skills in daily functions after stroke.

Author information

Universidade de Brasília, Faculdade de Ceilândia, BrasíliaDF, Brazil.
UFMG, Physical Therapy Department, Belo HorizonteMG, Brazil.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Institute of Biological Sciences, Belo HorizonteMG, Brazil.



Mental practice (MP) is a cognitive strategy which may improve the acquisition of motor skills and functional performance of athletes and individuals with neurological injuries.


To determine whether an individualized, specific functional task-oriented MP, when added to conventional physical therapy (PT), promoted better learning of motor skills in daily functions in individuals with chronic stroke (13 ± 6.5 months post-stroke).


Nine individuals with stable mild and moderate upper limb impairments participated, by employing an A1-B-A2 single-case design. Phases A1 and A2 included one month of conventional PT, and phase B the addition of MP training to PT. The motor activity log (MAL-Brazil) was used to assess the amount of use (AOU) and quality of movement (QOM) of the paretic upper limb; the revised motor imagery questionnaire (MIQ-RS) to assess the abilities in kinesthetic and visual motor imagery; the Minnesota manual dexterity test to assess manual dexterity; and gait speed to assess mobility.


After phase A1, no significant changes were observed for any of the outcome measures. However, after phase B, significant improvements were observed for the MAL, AOU and QOM scores (p<0.0001), and MIQ-RS kinesthetic and visual scores (p=0.003; p=0.007, respectively). The significant gains in manual dexterity (p=0.002) and gait speed (p=0.019) were maintained after phase A2.


Specific functional task-oriented MP, when added to conventional PT, led to improvements in motor imagery abilities combined with increases in the AOU and QOM in daily functions, manual dexterity, and gait speed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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