The ability to mentally imagine the performance of movements is used in sports training and in physiotherapy, as a tool to enhance motor learning and rehabilitation.
It is been assumed that motor imagery activates the same brain areas as actual movement, and this is partially correct. Real life movement activates the left medial frontal areas (preSMA/SMA), prefrontal- and frontal areas, putamen and inferior parietal areas.
In a pilot study, researchers from Copenhagen University, Denmark, and The Grieg Academy of Music Therapy Research Center in Bergen, Norway, examined the effects of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), a specific technique, created by Helen Bonny, that includes relaxation, music listening, and observing the resulting, spontaneous imagery that arises from the music, on bio-psycho-social measures of stress related to long term sick leave...
Twenty Danish workers on sick leave were randomized to either a music therapy intervention or wait-list control. Data collection was carried out at an occupational health ward in the period 2008-2010.
Researchers from the University of Athens in Greece examined the effect of a simple, zero cost stress management program on patients suffering from neck pain. Studies have shown that stress is implicated as a cause of neck pain (NP).
This study is a parallel-type randomized clinical study. People with chronic non-specific neck pain were chosen randomly to participate in an eight-week program of stress management (N= 28) that included diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation; or a no intervention control condition (N= 25).
Self-report measures were used to evaluate variables at the beginning and end of the eight-week monitoring period. Descriptive and inferential statistical methods were used for the analysis.
Investigators from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, performed a systematic review of clinical studies on the efficacy of a technique in stroke rehabilitation called “mental practice” (also called guided imagery or mental rehearsal).
Mental Practice is defined by the authors as imagining the body performing a motor action or skill, in order to learn or perfect it. Functional imaging shows that mental practice does, in fact, produce cortical activation patterns similar to those of actual movement.
Researchers from Baylor University and the University of Michigan examined the effect of hypnotic relaxation therapy on sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. This was a secondary outcome from a larger randomized, controlled trial.
Sexual dysfunction was measured by the Sexual Activity Questionnaire (SAQ).
Significant improvement in sexual pleasure, and remediation of discomfort were reported after five weekly sessions of hypnotic relaxation therapy, as compared to those in the attention control group.
Researchers from the University of Athens examined the effectiveness of an eight-week stress-management intervention program, which included progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, guided imagery and cognitive restructuring, in overweight and obese children and adolescents.
Forty-nine children and adolescents (mean age ± SEM: 11.15 ± 1.48 years) were recruited to participate in this randomized controlled study. Of those, 23 participants were assigned into the intervention group, while 26 participants represented the control group.
Researchers from several German universities conducted a systematic review to evaluate the efficacy, acceptability and safety of guided imagery/hypnosis for fibromyalgia.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing GI/H with controls were analyzed.
Primary outcomes showed gains in pain relief (≥ 50%), quality of life, psychological distress, disability, acceptability and safety at end of therapy and 3-month follow-up.
Researchers from Cyprus University of Technology explored the effect of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) and Guided Imagery (GI) in reducing anxiety levels among parents of children diagnosed with any type of malignancy receiving active treatment at a pediatric oncology Unit.
In this randomized, non-blinded, controlled trial, 54 eligible parents were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (PMR and GI) (n = 29) or a control group (n = 25), where changes in anxiety levels (HAM-A) and mood (POMSb) were assessed.
Researchers from King’s College, London and Curtin University, Perth, compared two approaches to reducing worry in people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In one group, volunteers with GAD practiced replacing the usual form of worry with images of possible positive outcomes; in the other group, the same positive outcomes were represented verbally. A control group generated positive images not related to worries.
Participants received training in their designated method and then practiced it for one week, after which they were reassessed. Four weeks later, they completed follow-up questionnaires.
Six critical care nurses from the Beaumont Hospital System in Royal Oak, Michigan examined the impact of guided imagery and clinical massage on the pain, anxiety and sleep quality of 288 in-patients in 2 floors dedicated to Progressive Care (otherwise known as the Step-Down Unit, a mid-way place between intensive care and regular care on a med-surg floor).
On one floor, each patient was offered daily a 15-minute complimentary clinical massage On the other floor, patients were offered a 30-minute guided imagery recording.