Because guided motor imagery has recently gained so much attention as a promising new rehabilitation method for patients with neurological disorders, researchers from Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, tested whether patients with Parkinson’s Disease had the capacity for doing imagery, in spite of impaired basal ganglia function.

A total of 14 patients with early- and mid-stage PD (Hoehn and Yahr 1-3) and 14 healthy controls were evaluated by means of an extensive imagery ability assessment battery, consisting of 2 questionnaires, the Chaotic Motor Imagery Assessment battery, and a test based on mental chronometry.

The study found that the PD patients performed the imagery tasks more slowly than the controls, but that their motor imagery vividness and accuracy were well preserved.

These results support the potential for using  guided motor imagery practice in the rehabilitation of patients with PD.

Citation:  Heremans E, Feys P, Nieuwboer A, Vercruysse S, Vandenberghe W, Sharma N, Helsen W. Motor imagery ability in patients with early- and mid-stage Parkinson disease. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2011 Feb;25 (2): pages 168-77.