Effects of Physical and Mental Practice on Motor Learning in Individuals with Cerebral Palsy
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In this study we investigated the effects of physical and mental practice in acquisition, retention, and transfer of a motor skill in individuals with cerebral palsy (CP). For this reason, 29 males diagnosed with CP type I (18.51 ± 5.03 years of age) were chosen and, according to a pretest, were assigned to three homogenous groups; physical practice (n = 10), mental practice (n = 10), and control (n = 9). The experimental groups practiced for 5 sessions (6 blocks of 5 trials in each session). The acquisition test was run immediately at the end of each practice session and the retention and transfer tests were run approximately 48 h following the acquisition phase. Analyses of variance with repeated measures and post hoc tests suggest individuals with CP have the ability to acquire and retain a new motor skill with either physical or mental practice. This finding replicates studies involving typically developing individuals and extends previous research by demonstrating the benefits of mental practice for people with CP. Implications for clinical practice and directions for future research are discussed.
KeywordsPhysical practice Mental practice Motor learning Cerebral palsy Throwing dart
The authors thank the students with cerebral palsy who participated in this study and their parents.
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