JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effects of motor imagery training on lower limb motor function of patients with chronic stroke: A pilot single-blind randomized controlled trial

Xiao-Jun Yin, Yuan-Jiao Wang, Xiao-Di Ding, Tian-Ming Shi
International Journal of Nursing Practice 2021 April 10, : e12933
33837986

AIMS: This pilot study aimed to evaluate the effects of motor imagery training on lower limb motor function of stroke patients.

BACKGROUND: Motor imagery training has played an important role in rehabilitation outcomes of stroke patients.

METHODS: In this pilot randomized controlled trial 32 stroke patients were randomly divided into experimental and control groups from January to June 2017. Patients in both groups received conventional neuro-rehabilitation five times a week in 3-h segments for 6 weeks. Patients in the experimental group underwent an additional 20 min of motor imagery training. Measures were evaluated by motor function of the lower extremity, activities of daily living and balance ability.

RESULTS: The outcomes significantly improved by motor imagery training were the Fugl-Meyer Assessment of the lower extremity, the Functional Independence Measure dealing with transfers and locomotion, and the Berg Balance Scale.

CONCLUSION: Motor imagery training could be used as a complement to physical rehabilitation of stroke patients. Our findings may be helpful to develop nursing strategies aimed at improving functional ability of stroke patients and thus enhancing their quality of life.

SUMMARY STATEMENT: What is already known about this topic? Lower extremity dyskinesia is among the most common complications that significantly limit the patient's activities of daily living. Motor imagery training, a safe and cost-efficient technique, may be used as a complement to physical rehabilitation of stroke patients. Evidence suggests that motor imagery training is effective in upper limb recovery after stroke. There is limited evidence of the effectiveness of motor imagery training on lower limb motor functions of patients with chronic stroke. What this paper adds? Motor imagery training can be incorporated into conventional therapy among individuals by rehabilitation specialist nurses with sufficient experience of motor imagery training, but substantial resources are needed. Six-week motor imagery training resulted in a significant improvement in the motor performance of lower limbs in patients with stroke. Further study is needed to modify and optimize the present programme and should be focused on enabling more stroke patients to benefit from motor imagery training. The implications of this paper: The addition of motor imagery training to the conventional neuro-rehabilitation can significantly promote the recovery of motor performance of lower limbs in stroke patients, thus reducing long-term disability and associated socio-economic burden. The findings of this pilot study may be helpful to develop nursing strategies aimed at improving functional ability and consequently the quality of life of stroke patients. Nurses can learn the motor imagery training as a technique for practising psychomotor nursing skills.

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