Motor Imagery Impairment in Postacute Stroke Patients.
Braun N., Kranczioch C., Liepert J., Dettmers C., Zich C., Büsching I., Debener S.
Not much is known about how well stroke patients are able to perform motor imagery (MI) and which MI abilities are preserved after stroke. We therefore applied three different MI tasks (one mental chronometry task, one mental rotation task, and one EEG-based neurofeedback task) to a sample of postacute stroke patients (n = 20) and age-matched healthy controls (n = 20) for addressing the following questions: First, which of the MI tasks indicate impairment in stroke patients and are impairments restricted to the paretic side? Second, is there a relationship between MI impairment and sensory loss or paresis severity? And third, do the results of the different MI tasks converge? Significant differences between the stroke and control groups were found in all three MI tasks. However, only the mental chronometry task and EEG analysis revealed paresis side-specific effects. Moreover, sensitivity loss contributed to a performance drop in the mental rotation task. The findings indicate that although MI abilities may be impaired after stroke, most patients retain their ability for MI EEG-based neurofeedback. Interestingly, performance in the different MI measures did not strongly correlate, neither in stroke patients nor in healthy controls. We conclude that one MI measure is not sufficient to fully assess an individual's MI abilities.