Mental practice of tasks is a relatively new therapy that is receiving increasing attention within rehabilitation research. Mental practice can be defined as: ‘‘The repetition or rehearsing imagined motor acts with the intention of improving their physical execution’’(Malouin & Richards, 2010).
The effects of mental practice in neurological rehabilitation; a systematic review and meta-analysis. To investigate the beneficial and adverse effects of a mental practice intervention on activities, cognition, and emotion in patients after stroke, patients with Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
At the WPTC in Amsterdam 2012 an overview poster of mental practice in neurorehabilitation was presented (see below).
Treating patients after stroke is very challenging: patients are often vulnerable, especially in the (sub) acute phase of recovery, and stroke is a complex pathology which can lead to a variety of symptoms. While it is reasonably established that the overall process of neurological rehabilitation is effective, there is little evidence to support many specific rehabilitation therapeutic techniques. Currently it seems that task orientated practice (i.e. practising an activity of relevance) is the most effective single therapeutic technique.