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Clinical and Neurophysiological Effects of Progressive Movement Imagery Training for Pathological Pain

  • Martin Lotze
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Martin Lotze, MD, Functional Imaging Unit; Center for Diagnostic Radiology and Neuroradiology; University Medicine Greifswald; Walther-Rathenau-Str.46, D-17475 Greifswald, Germany.
    Affiliations
    Functional Imaging Unit. Diagnostic Radiology and Neuroradiology, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
    Search for articles by this author
  • G. Lorimer Moseley
    Affiliations
    IIMPACT in Health, University of South Australia, Kaurna Country, Adelaide, Australia
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      Abstract

      Movement limitation is a common characteristic of chronic pain such that pain prevents the very movement and activity that is most likely to promote recovery. This is particularly the case for pathological pain states such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). One clinical approach to CRPS that has growing evidence of efficacy involves progressive movement imagery training. Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) targets clinical and neurophysiological effects through a stepwise progression through implicit and explicit movement imagery training, mirror therapy and then functional tasks. Here we review experiences from over 20 years of clinical and research experience with GMI. We situate GMI in terms of its historical underpinnings, the benefits and outstanding challenges of its implementation, its potential application beyond CRPS. We then review the neuropathological targets of GMI and current thought on its effects on neurophysiological biomarkers.

      Perspective

      This article provides an overview of our experiences with graded motor imagery training over the last 20 years focussing on the treatment of CRPS. It does both cover the theoretical underpinnings for this treatment approach, biomarkers which indicate potential changes driven by GMI, and experiences for achieving optimal treatment results.

      Key Words

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