Santo F. Di Nuovo, Giulia Santoro, Mariangela Vasta, Sebastiano Russo


Mental Imagery (i.e., processing of objects’ properties and spatial relations, including the ability of mentally rotating and manipulating objects in the space), is relevant for movement and its development, and particularly for rehabilitation of motor skills. Few studies aimed at assessing  the efficacy of imagery training used objective scores of Mental Imagery skills, preferring self-evaluations of these abilities reported by the subjects themselves. The aim of the paper was to explore the relevance of Mental Imagery, assessed by objective tests, in predicting the improvement of balance skills, after a standard rehabilitative training in orthopaedic settings; taking into account also emotional variables as anxiety and depression. A controlled study was conducted assessing the changes in balance skills after rehabilitative training. The sample was composed of 30 orthopaedic inpatients (females 66.7%, age range 47-91 years). To measure the dependent variable for pre-post assessment, B-scale from Performance-oriented mobility assessment test (POMA) was used. Independent variables were measured using Mental Imagery Test, Mini-Mental State Examination, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scales. The best predictor of improvement in balance after rehabilitation is the Mental Imagery test, followed by age and mental efficiency. Anxiety predicts negatively the improvement, while education and depression appear to influence less the rehabilitation process. In conclusion,the study demonstrates that mental imagery is relevant in helping balance rehabilitation. A training of this function could be essential for clinical practice; the trainers should assess preliminarily the subject's attitude and ability to use mental imagery, with the aim of optimizing the rehabilitative process.


Orthopaedic Rehabilitation; Balance; Mental Imagery; Anxiety; Depression


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