Home-based motor imagery training for gait rehabilitation of people with chronic poststroke hemiparesis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Aug;89(8):1580-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2007.12.039.


Objective: To test the feasibility and efficacy of a home-based motor imagery gait training program to improve walking performance of individuals with chronic poststroke hemiparesis.

Design: Nonrandomized controlled trial.

Setting: Local facility.

Participants: Participants (N=17) were community-dwelling volunteers with hemiparesis caused by a unilateral stroke that occurred at least 3 months before the study.

Intervention: Participants received 15 minutes of supervised imagery gait training in their homes 3 days a week for 6 weeks. The intervention addressed gait impairments of the affected lower limb and task-specific gait training. Walking ability was evaluated by kinematics and functional scales twice before the intervention, 3 and 6 weeks after the intervention began, and at the 3-week follow-up.

Main outcome measures: Spatiotemporal, kinematic, and functional walking measurements.

Results: Walking speed increased significantly by 40% after training, and the gains were largely maintained at the 3-week follow-up. The effect size of the intervention on walking speed was moderate (.64). There were significant increases in stride length, cadence, and single-support time of the affected lower limb, whereas double-support time was decreased. Improvements were also noted on the gait scale of the Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment as well as in functional gait. Sixty-five percent of the participants advanced 1 walking category in the Modified Functional Walking Categories Index.

Conclusions: Although further study is recommended, the findings support the feasibility and justify the incorporation of home-based motor imagery exercises to improve walking skills for poststroke hemiparesis.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / rehabilitation*
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresis / etiology
  • Paresis / rehabilitation*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*