Mental practice of certain motor skill has repeatedly shown to activate the same set of muscles and neurological areas just like physical practice of the skill. The brain has a unique memory which remembers which nerve cells and nerves to activate, and this connection helps in the speedy recovery of the patient.
A pilot study results show that many rehabilitation programs are incorporating mental practices to revive motor skills.
Mental practice can help a patient increase the blood flow to the parts of the brain where there has been no activity. A certain activity performed mentally and repetitively can form a permanent impression on the brain. After a certain period of time, the person can perform the activity automatically without the aid of prompts. This technique of mental practice has also proven to be highly effective in patients who have suffered severe or massive strokes and are left in a more or less vegetative condition. Sometimes a stroke can leave a person with nothing but take away everything like loss of motor skills, memory, vision and speech. A person ends up being no more than a vegetable because he is unable to do any day to day activities for living and is completely dependent on another person. However, mental practice techniques can help such a person in the areas of physical and motor skills that are needed for day to day survival.
Nonetheless, still a lot of research is being done to find ways to improve the techniques so that they benefit stroke patients even more. Simple devices are being made so that they can help to improve the mental practice skills.
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