Mental Imagery to Reduce Motor Deficits in Stroke

Completed

Phase 1 Results N/A

Trial Description

The primary aim of the proposed study is to collect data in an effort to estimate the clinical effectiveness of implementing repetitive task practice (RTP) in addition to mental imagery training (MIT) to improve upper extremity motor function and the quality of life of chronic stroke patients.

Detailed Description

Stroke is the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States, and lack of upper limb motor control is a major contributor to stroke-related disability. Physical and occupational therapy treatments are most commonly used to reduce long-term disability. Unfortunately, little scientific evidence exists to best target patients for therapy, define when such therapies should be provided, or even to identify the best therapies themselves. A recent National Institutes of Health consensus panel decided that there were only three therapeutic techniques with supporting scientific evidence, and for only one of these techniques, constraint induced therapy, was there evidence from a randomized trial.
The imagination, probably our most under-utilized health resource, can be used to remember and recreate the past, develop insight into the present, influence physical health, improve creativity and inspiration, and anticipate possible futures. All of us have, to some extent, experienced the effects of the imagination on the body. In recent years, data have suggested that mental practice can improve the performance of motor skill behaviors. These studies have generally shown that healthy volunteers who train with their minds on a specific task usually show better performance compared with a those that did not practice, although less than those who train physically.
To date, only a few small attempts to use mental practice in rehabilitation have been tried. A study in subacute stroke patients comparing the possibility and effectiveness of a program that combined imagery and physical therapy with a program of physical therapy only, showed that combining the two therapies is a clinically feasible, cost-effective addition to therapy that may improve functional outcomes more than participation in physical therapy only. Thus, mental practice in physical rehabilitation offers a potential way to improve motor recovery after damage to the brain.
One approach to improve arm function among patients with stroke is intensive repetitive task practice (RTP). This treatment can take the form of functional training alone or also include other ways encouraged within constraint induced (CI) movement therapy. Repetitive activities often used in physical or occupational therapy may also improve health related quality of life. While intense treatment, such as CI therapy, to overcome arm impairment may prove to be helpful, such therapy is expensive because it relies on one-on-one interaction between the patient and rehabilitation therapist. New therapeutic treatments to help existing therapy that offer helpful and money saving alternatives must be developed to improve arm use, and also, stroke survivors' quality of life.
While RTP and mental imagery may be promising treatments, we do not clearly understand the changes that may occur in the brain's of patients who have had a stroke following any physical rehabilitation. A few studies using positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures have shown the blood flow changes in the brain during physical movement following CIT. If the way in which recovery of motor function after stroke were better understood, better decisions could be made regarding the best selection of specific treatment strategies.
The primary aim of the proposed study is to collect data in an effort to estimate the clinical effectiveness of implementing RTP in addition to mental imagery training (MIT) to improve upper extremity motor function and the quality of life of chronic stroke patients. One group in this study will be asked to "mentally rehearse" a series of upper limb functional motor tasks for one and a half hours per day (3-30 minute sessions), with the guidance of an audio tape, for a total of 21 hours over two weeks. Another group will undergo 10 days (6 hours per day) RTP with a licensed rehabilitation specialist as well as listen to the same MIT tape for one and a half hours per day (3-30 minute sessions. Motor function and quality of life will be measured on two occasions: before the intervention and immediately after the intervention. A unique aspect of this study will be to obtain the fMRI data on a subset of patients enrolled in each group. Everything involving this study will be done at the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and at the Emory University Hospital.
This study represents one of the first tries at using mental imagery in addition to a physical rehabilitation for the recovery of movement after stroke and, to our knowledge, the first try to use fMRI to look at changes in the brain after mental training. The results of this study may allow us to learn more about the relationship between rehabilitation and brain function after stroke, as well as confirm the idea that actual changes in the brain are related to improving movement in the body.
This study uses an new therapeutic method along with well accepted methods (RTP) in an effort to improve arm movement of patients who have had a stroke. A thorough approach will be used to determine how the use of mental imagery along with RTP can change movement of the arm and the quality of life of patients who have had a stroke using proven clinical tests to determine movement performance and patients' quality of life. Furthermore, precise brain functioning tests (i.e. fMRI) will be performed to better understand the actual changes that happen in the brain when stroke patients have improved movement in their arm.
Should the use of MIT and RTP be better than RTP or MIT alone, a many year randomized clinical trial would be suggested to determine the helpfulness of using mental imagery training with RTP to improve arm function and the quality of life of patients with stroke. The benefits of this would be reduced costs for arm rehabilitation among certain patients who have had strokes and a better way for rehabilitation centers to prescribe and provide therapy targeting the arm. Because of shorter lengths of stay and fewer number of therapy sessions allowed for in- and out-patient services for stroke survivors, the use of additional and different delivery systems, such as mental imagery, become very important.

Conditions

Interventions

  • Mental Imagery only Behavioral
    Intervention Desc: Listening to an audio tape to enhance mental imagery of functional activities of the affected upper extremity
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 2
    Description: Mental Imagery only
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Mental Imagery only
    Description: Mental Imagery only
  • Mental Imagery and Constraint induced therapy Procedure
    Intervention Desc: Listening to an audio tape to enhance mental imagery AND participation in constraint induced therapy
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 1
    Description: Mental Imagery and Constraint Induced Therapy
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Mental Imagery and CIT
    Description: Mental Imagery and Constraint Induced Therapy

Trial Design

  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor)
  • Purpose: Treatment
  • Endpoint: Efficacy Study
  • Intervention: Crossover Assignment

Outcomes

Type Measure Time Frame Safety Issue
Primary Wolf Motor Function Test Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Primary Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment Test Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Primary Movement Imagery Questionnaire Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Primary Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Primary Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Primary Stroke Impact Scale Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No
Secondary Sirigu's break test Pre-treatment, Post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up No

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