JOURNAL ARTICLE

Home-based motor imagery training for gait rehabilitation of people with chronic poststroke hemiparesis

Ayelet Dunsky, Ruth Dickstein, Emanuel Marcovitz, Sandra Levy, Judith E Deutsch, Judith Deutsch
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2008, 89 (8): 1580-8
18674992

OBJECTIVE: To test the feasibility and efficacy of a home-based motor imagery gait training program to improve walking performance of individuals with chronic poststroke hemiparesis.

DESIGN: Nonrandomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Local facility.

PARTICIPANTS: Participants (N=17) were community-dwelling volunteers with hemiparesis caused by a unilateral stroke that occurred at least 3 months before the study.

INTERVENTION: Participants received 15 minutes of supervised imagery gait training in their homes 3 days a week for 6 weeks. The intervention addressed gait impairments of the affected lower limb and task-specific gait training. Walking ability was evaluated by kinematics and functional scales twice before the intervention, 3 and 6 weeks after the intervention began, and at the 3-week follow-up.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Spatiotemporal, kinematic, and functional walking measurements.

RESULTS: Walking speed increased significantly by 40% after training, and the gains were largely maintained at the 3-week follow-up. The effect size of the intervention on walking speed was moderate (.64). There were significant increases in stride length, cadence, and single-support time of the affected lower limb, whereas double-support time was decreased. Improvements were also noted on the gait scale of the Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment as well as in functional gait. Sixty-five percent of the participants advanced 1 walking category in the Modified Functional Walking Categories Index.

CONCLUSIONS: Although further study is recommended, the findings support the feasibility and justify the incorporation of home-based motor imagery exercises to improve walking skills for poststroke hemiparesis.

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