BACKGROUND: Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, with walking impairment being a devastating indicator of chronic post-stroke hemiparesis. Limited resources exist for individual treatments; therefore, the delivery of safe group exercise therapy is highly desired. OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the application of group-based motor imagery practice to community-dwelling individuals with chronic hemiparesis improves gait. METHODS: Sixteen individuals with chronic hemiparesis from two community centers participated in the study, with eight from each center. Four participants in each center received five weeks of the experimental intervention, consisting of group-based motor imagery exercises of gait tasks, followed by five weeks of control treatment of motor imagery exercises for the affected upper extremity. Four other subjects in each center received the same treatments in reverse order. Pre- and post intervention measurements included clinical and biomechanical gait parameters. RESULTS: Comparisons within (pre- vs. post) and between treatments (experimental vs. control) indicated no significant change in any gait variable. Nevertheless, the verbal reports of most participants alluded to satisfaction with the experimental intervention and to an increase in self-confidence. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of group-based motor imagery practice in improving gait among individuals with chronic hemiparesis, the contrast between the measured outcomes and the positive verbal reports merits further inquiry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation