Impaired motor planning and motor imagery in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy: challenges for the future of pediatric rehabilitation



Compromised action performance is one of the most characteristic features of children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP). Current rehabilitation efforts predominantly aim to improve the capacity and performance of the affected arm. Recent evidence, however, suggests that compromised motor planning may also negatively affect performance of activities of daily living. In this paper we will first discuss the recent evidence for this motor planning deficit, followed by studies on motor imagery in this population. Motor imagery is an experimental approach in which the contents of the motor plan become overt. Converging evidence indicates a compromised motor imagery ability in USCP. As the neural structures of both motor planning and motor imagery overlap, rehabilitation by motor imagery training may alleviate motor problems in USCP. Increasing evidence for this approach exists in older adults with stroke. We conclude this review with recommendations on such a training approach for children with USCP.