Effects of motor imagery training on balance and gait abilities in post-stroke patients: a randomized controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2013 Aug;27(8):675-80. doi: 10.1177/0269215512464702. Epub 2012 Nov 5.


Objectives: To investigate the effects of motor imagery training on the balance and gait abilities of post-stroke patients.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Outpatient rehabilitation centre.

Subjects: Twenty-eight individuals with chronic stroke.

Interventions: The experimental group (n = 15) performed motor imagery training involving imagining normal gait movement for 15 minutes embedded in gait training for 30 minutes (45 minutes/day, 3 times/week); the control group (n = 13) performed gait training only (30 minutes/day, 3 times/week).

Main measures: Balance and gait abilities were measured by the Functional Reach Test, Timed Up-and-Go Test, 10-m Walk Test and Fugl-Meyer assessment before and after interventions.

Results: All measurements improved significantly compared with baseline values in the experimental group. In the control group, there were significant improvements in all parameters except the Fugl-Meyer assessment. All parameters of the experimental group increased significantly compared to those of the control group as follows: Functional Reach Test (control vs. experimental: 28.1 ± 3.1 vs. 37.51 ± 3.0), Timed Up-and-Go Test (20.7 ± 4.0 vs. 13.2 ± 2.2), 10-m Walk Test (17.4 ± 4.6 vs. 16.0 ± 2.7) and Fugl-Meyer assessment (12.0 ± 2.9 vs. 17.6 ± 1.3).

Conclusions: Gait training with motor imagery training improves the balance and gait abilities of chronic stroke patients significantly better than gait training alone.

Keywords: Stroke; balance; gait; motor imagery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Republic of Korea
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*