Clinical Bottom Line: The use of independent mental imagery along with physical practice of the same task can optimize short-term functional recovery of the hemiparetic upper extremity in stroke patients ranging from acute to chronic. Clinical Scenario: Recent studies have attempted to demonstrate that mental practice combined with physical practice may be a more effective treatment for hemiparesis in patients with stroke than the use of physical practice alone. We wanted to study the available research to determine if mental practice/motor imagery combined with physical practice produces better functional outcomes than physical practice alone. Mental practice, mental imagery, and motor imagery are terms that will be used interchangeably throughout this document.
Clinical PICO: Population: Patients with stroke with residual hemiparesis. Intervention: Mental practice/motor imagery combined with physical practice. Comparison: Standard physical therapy for stroke rehabilitation (physical practice). Outcome: Subjective and objective outcome measures that quantify the functional use of the affected limb as well as the effect size and number needed to treat (NNT).
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