Improving the motor and cognitive performance among multiple sclerosis patients through the use of mental imagery

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Towson University. Department of Psychology


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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is characterized by a demyelination of neuronal axons within the central nervous system that results in a range of neurological deficits. Currently, researchers and physicians are providing MS patients with a variety of treatments and therapies to help manage symptoms of the disease. However, due to physical limitations, mental practice may be a useful alternative to conventional physical therapy. Mental practice involves the repeated mental simulation of a goal directed movement for improving one's actual performance. This study hypothesized that patients who undergo an eight week upper extremity mental practice intervention would improve their performance more so than those who have had no practice at all. Moreover, the study evaluated whether an increase in performance on the mentally practiced task would generalize to other domains, such as cognition and lower extremity function. Although the results were not significant, they did support the use of mental practice as a tool for rehabilitation.