Objective: The main objective of this trial was to assess whether action observation (AO) training and motor imagery (MI) produced changes in the cervical joint position sense (CJPS) both at the end of the intervention and 10 min postintervention compared with a placebo intervention in patients with nonspecific chronic neck pain (NSCNP).
Methods: A single-blind placebo clinical trial was designed. A total of 30 patients with NSCNP were randomly assigned to the AO group, MI group or placebo observation (PO) group. CJPS in flexion, extension and rotation movements in both planes were the main variables.
Results: The results obtained in the vertical plane showed that the AO group obtained greater improvements than the PO group in the CJPS in terms of cervical extension movement both at the end of the intervention and 10 min postintervention (p = .001, d = 1.81 and p = .004, d = 1.74, respectively), and also in cervical flexion movement, although only at 10 min after the intervention (p = .035, d = 0.72). In addition, the AO group obtained greater improvements than the MI group in the CJPS only at the end of the intervention in cervical extension movement (p = .041, d = 1.17). Regarding the left rotation cervical movement, both the MI and AO groups were superior to the PO group in both planes at the end of the intervention (p < .05, d > 0.80).
Conclusions: Although both AO and MI could be a useful strategy for CJPS improvement, the AO group showed the strongest results. The therapeutic potential of the application of mental practice in a clinical context in the early stages of rehabilitation of NSCNP should be considered.
Keywords: Action observation; Chronic neck pain; Joint position sense; Motor imagery.
©2019 Cuenca-Martínez et al.