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Graded Motor Imagery

Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) is an evidence-based technique used to treat a variety of complex pain and movement conditions. GMI is based upon our growing understanding of the brain’s plasticity—that is, its ability to change and adapt. Flashcards, mirror exercises, and computerized activities all work to form new synaptic connections within the brain, potentially benefitting those with phantom limb pain, chronic pain, and complex regional pain syndromes.

Graded motor imagery is divided into three distinct stages:

1. Left/right discrimination (One’s ability to distinguish the different sides of their body; this has revealed to be an important part of pain processing)

2. Explicit motor imagery (This is related to “mirror neurons”, or brain cells which fire both when one performs and observes or imagines an action. Controlling mirror neuron activity is also an important part of reducing pain for some individuals)

3. Mirror therapy (Viewing mirror-reflected images can trick the brain into believing that a moving limb is actually one from the other side of the body. This element of treatment is particularly effective for those suffering phantom limb pain)

Many of our Action Potential Rehabilitation therapists are trained in graded motor imagery. To learn more about GMI, please contact our clinic.



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This website provides general information about our services and conditions treated. It is not intended to be used for self-assessment or treatment, and is not a substitute for an individualized treatment plan developed by a registered physiotherapist.

By the Action Potential Rehabilitation Staff

Page last reviewed: May 5th, 2021