Braun, S. M., Beurskens, A. J., Borm, P. J., Schack, T. & Wade, D. T. (2006). The effects of mental practice in stroke rehabilitation: A systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 87, 842-852.

Braun et al. (2006) conducted a systematic review of the efficacy of mental practice in improving physical recovery after stroke. The review included relevant articles available in English, German, French and Dutch drawn from multiple databases to August 2005, resulting in a total of 4 randomised controlled trials, 1 controlled clinical trial, 2 patient series and 3 case reports (N=121). All studies are reported on StrokEngine. Significant variation among studies limited data synthesis. Among the 10 studies reviewed, time since onset of stroke ranged from 7 days to 4 years and age of participants ranged from 38 to 81 years. Experimental groups performed mental practice alone or as part of physiotherapy/occupational therapy sessions and mental imagery training included tape recordings, mental rehearsal of a motor task through observation and visualization, problem-solving techniques, self-regulation, or in combination with overt movement. Control therapies included conventional intervention, relaxation, listening to information about stroke on tape, or no intervention. Frequency of treatment ranged from multiple sessions/day to three times/week, and duration of treatment ranged from 2 to 6 weeks. Outcomes varied in terms of domains/skills measured, instruments used and timing. The systematic review reported that mental practice has a positive effect on recovery of arm and leg function, although no definite conclusions could be drawn due to variation among, and limitations of, the studies.