Motor imagery, or mentally rehearsing walking to rhythmic cues, improved walking speeds and distances, and ease fatigue, in MS patients, a study reports.
Mentally rehearsing an ease of walking to rhythmic cues — especially musical and verbal — improves walking speed and distance, and lessens feelings of fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a study reports.
The study, “Effects and mechanisms of differently cued and non-cued motor imagery in people with multiple sclerosis: A randomised controlled trial” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, and highlighted by the Multiple Sclerosis Trust in a news release.
Studies have suggested that a physiotherapy approach called motor imagery (MI), which uses such cues, can help patients with walking difficulties and fatigue, and improve their quality of life.
Motor imagery involves imagining you are doing an activity without actually doing it. Research suggests that mentally rehearsing a movement activates the same brain areas as actual movement, which may result in the same plastic changes in the motor system as actual physical practice. These studies favor the view that this technique can help to develop neurological pathways that control motor function.
The technique is used by athletes to improve their performance, and by physiotherapists to help in the neurological rehabilitation of patients, like those recovering from a stroke.
Musical or verbal cues given a patient while that person imagines performing a task also help to reinforce the visualized movements.
Studies showing that motor imagery can benefit MS patients, however, have not looked into an underlying mechanism for this effect.