Mental imagery

Magritte – The False Mirror, 1928

Mental imagery, visualisation and focal dystonia retraining

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Mental imagery and dystonia

Mental imagery is already used in high level sports competition, and athletes are trained to rehearse their race in their mind, to increase their performance.

Could dystonic patients benefit from mental imagery focusing on their motor
difficulties
?

There are scientific facts, and anecdotal reports from dystonic patients to suggest that it may be very helpful on the long term.

Real and mentally stimulated movements rely upon largely overlapping networks. In another words, writing or imagining writing involved common networks in our brain. Studies have shown that the mental imagery of a movement in patients with dystonia follows the same difficulties than the execution of the dystonic movement.

A study by Fioro, 2006 has looked at the mental rotation of body part (hands, feet) in which the subjects imagine moving their body part, from their actual posture into that seen on a picture to recognise which side is belonged in patients with writer’s cramp. Writer’s cramp patients are slower than controls in mentally rotating hands but not feet; it suggests that the mental rotation of body parts reflects the anatomical constraints of real hand movements.

Could the mind reshape the brain?

Neuroplasticity is a normal process by which the brain develops new connections at different levels, following interaction with environment, emotions, behavior. Dystonia is understood to be a condition characterized by an excessive neuroplasticity of the brain leading to abnormal learning of motor program. To be able to influence this brain plasticity It’s important to create an environment for positive learning and recovery.  Mindfulness can be helpful in patients with focal dystonia to minimise stress and increase well being before embarking for retraining.

Retrain your brain, not your muscles!

The visual and mental imagery training will encourage you to imagine successful, normal execution of tasks, which the dystonia prevents you to do..

Remember the time when you could perform the movement normally, and how easy it was to do it and the pleasure, which come with it.

It will be best performed after the Botox treatment has already controlled the dystonic spasm
in the affected body part and together with sensory retraining.

Visualisation exercises are not always easy and you may benefit of the advice of professionals such as hypnotherapist or specialized physiotherapist

Try daily to visualize yourself free of the dystonia, walking eye opened, turning your head freely looking around you, writing a page with our favorite pen or chewing a delicious meal.

Also music and melody can help you to IMAGINE…

You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday
you’ll join us, And the world will live as one  (John Lennon)