Graded Motor Imagery for CRPS and other pain syndromes

Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) forms part of the comprehensive treatment for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) at our clinics. GMI was born our of the research of Lorimer Moseley who continues to provide us with new data and thinking on the treatment of pain. The on-going reconceptualisation of pain has been one of the most important steps forward in health with pain bridging so many specialties. 

The early work with GMI and CRPS demonstrating positive effects has been built upon so that now there is a growing, high quality literature base to the clinical work. On the Body in Mind (BiM) site many of the papers are available to read – click here

The practice of motor imagery has been in existence for some years. Probably best known in sport when athletes mentally play out their routine, for example a gymnastics display, a penalty kick  or playing a hole in golf. Jack Nicklaus wrote,

“I never hit a shot even in practice without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a colour movie. First, I “see” the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I “see” the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behaviour on landing. Then there’s a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality and only at the end of this short private Hollywood spectacular do I select a club and step up to the ball.”

There is a difference between mental imagery and motor imagery. Mental imagery can be static and includes visualising a place, a scene or a person for example, thereby creating a positive state. This positive state can then be used to optimise performance. Motor imagery is about activating the areas of the brain involved with the planning of movement but without actually moving. Hence there is less activity allowing for a gradual increase in demand that is especially important when rehabilitating a painful problem – graded exposure. Both methods can be used to optimise performance in both pain states and in arenas where the individual seeks greater success such as at work and in sport.

Call us now to find out more about our comprehensive treatment programmes for persisting pain, wellness programmes to optimise performance and education programmes (Neurocoaching for coaches – coming soon): 07932 689081

See the Specialist Pain Physio clinic website here


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