G-15I Free Communication/Thematic Poster Balance/Posture
Recent studies have demonstrated that directing neuroligically intact performers' attention to the effects of their movements (external focus) enhances motor performance and learning, while directing their attention to the movements themselves (internal focus) disrupts automatic control processes. Neuroligically impaired patients, however, are often provided internal focus instructions during rehabilitation, and the question arises whether such instructions help or hinder the re-acquisition of certain motor skills.
To examine whether the attentional focus adopted on a supra-postural task influenced the postural control of stroke patients.
Participants were instructed to stand quietly while lightly touching a curtain with their fingertips and asked to minimize movements of the fingers (internal focus) or to minimize movements of the sheet (external focus). Postural sway was measured via an AMTI force platform system.
Both attentional focus conditions resulted in decreased postural sway relative to baseline, however, only the internal focus instructions elicited a corresponding increase in frequency of responding (as assessed via Fast Fourier analysis).
Unlike previous studies which found enhanced performance under external focus conditions, these results suggest that for neuroligically impaired patients, an internal focus might be an appropriate treatment strategy.