“The Role of Mental Imagery in Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation”

Amit Abraham 1,2*, Ryan P. Duncan 3,4 and Gammon M. Earhart 3,4,5

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a disabling neurodegenerative disease whose manifestations span motor, sensorimotor, and sensory domains. While current therapies for PD include pharma- cological, invasive, and physical interventions, there is a constant need for developing additional approaches for optimizing rehabilitation gains. Mental imagery is an emerging field in neurorehabilitation and has the potential to serve as an adjunct therapy to enhance patient function. Yet, the literature on this topic is sparse. The current paper reviews the motor, sensorimotor, and sensory domains impacted by PD using gait, balance, and pain as examples, respectively. Then, mental imagery and its potential for PD motor and non-motor rehabilitation is discussed, with an emphasis on its suitability for addressing gait, balance, and pain deficits in people with PD. Lastly, future research directions are suggested

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“Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice”

by Amit Abrahama,b, *, Eric Franklinc, Carla Steccod, Robert Schleipe, f, g

Mental imagery (MI) research has mainly focused to date on mechanisms of effect and performance gains associated with muscle and neural tissues. MI’s potential to affect fascia has rarely been considered. This paper conceptualizes ways in which MI might mutually interact with fascial tissue to support performance and cognitive functions. Such ways acknowledge, among others, MI’s positive effect on proprioception, body schema, and pain. Drawing on cellular, physiological, and functional similarities and associations between muscle and fascial tissues, we propose that MI has the potential to affect and be affected by fascial tissue. We suggest that fascia-targeted MI (fascial mental imagery; FMI) can therefore be a useful approach for scientific as well as clinical purposes. We use the example of fascial dynamic neuro-cognitive imagery (FDNI) as a codified FMI method available for scientific and therapeutic explorations into rehabilitation and prevention of fascia-related disabling conditions.



The Franklin Method® has been recognized and cited by scientists as a recommended approach to improving overall function in Parkinson’s patients. At the same time, we see an extremely positive development: scientific efforts are now increasingly aimed at improving the quality of life and well-being of the individual on the basis of the Franklin Method®.

For more information: Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation: Effectiveness Approaches and New Perspectives (by Luciana Auxiliadora de Paula Vasconcelos / Published: November 20th 2019)

Starting on Page 24 (4.1.9. Mental imagery) und Page 33 (References [79])


  • Increases jumping height in dancers (Heiland et al.,Research in Dance Education, 2012).
  • Improves plié arabesque performance in dancers (Heiland et al., Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 2012).
  • Improves mental imagery ability in people with Parkinsonʼs disease (Abraham et al., Neural Plasticity, 2018)
  • Improves disease severity and motor and cognitive functions in people with Parkinsonʼs disease (Abraham et al., Neural Plasticity, 2018).
  • Improves pelvic schema and graphic-metric representation in people with Parkinsonʼs disease (Abraham et al., Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2018).
  • Improves mental imagery ability and characteristics in dancers (Abraham et al., Frontiers in Psychology, 10:382, 2019. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00382)
  • Improves developpé performance, hip range-of-motion, and pelvic postural alignment in dancers (Abraham et al., Frontiers in Psychology, 10:382, 2019. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00382)

“Dynamic Neuro-Cognitive Imagery (DNITM) Improves Developpé Performance, Kinematics, and Mental Imagery Ability in University-Level Dance Students”

Amit Abraham 1,2*, Rebecca Gose 3, Ron Schindler 4, Bethany H. Nelson 2 and Madeleine E. Hackney 1,5

A new study on DNI and its beneficial effect on dance performance was recently published in the prestigious peer reviewed scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology.
A group of researchers from Emory University (USA), the University of Georgia (USA) and the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) assessed the effect of an intensive DNI training on performance of the developpe dance movement and found that following the training, participants significantly improved in gesturing ankle rise height, hip abduction and flexion range-of-motion, and mental imagery ability. Further, participants maintained their correct pelvic alignment. This study provides another evidence as for the efficacy of DNI/Franklin Method® approach to dance performance and injury prevention.

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“Will you draw me a pelvis?ˮ Dynamic neuro-cognitive imagery improves pelvic schema and graphic-metric representation in people with Parkinsonʼs Disease: A randomized controlled trial

by Amit Abrahama,b, Ariel Harta, Ruth Dicksteinc, Madeleine E.Hackneya,d

BackgroundBody schema (i.e., the mental representations of the body), vital for motor and cognitive functions, is often distorted in people with Parkinsonʼs disease (PD). Deficits in body, and especially pelvic, schema can further exacerbate motor and cognitive deficits associated with PD. Such deficits, including those in graphic and metric misjudgments, can manifest in drawing tasks. Mental imagery is a recommended approach for PD rehabilitation with potential for ameliorating body schema.
ObjectiveTo investigate the effect of a two-week dynamic neuro-cognitive imagery (DNI) training versus in-home learning and exercise control (learning/exercise) on pelvic schema and graphic representation (i.e., drawing height and width).
DesignTwenty participants with idiopathic PD (Hoehn&Yahr I-III; Mage: 65.75+10.13) were randomly allocated into either a DNI or a learning/exercise group. Participants were asked to complete the “Draw Your Pelvisˮ test in which they drew their pelvis at pre- and post-intervention. Drawings were assessed for pelvic schema score and drawing dimensions (i.e., height and weight).
InterventionDNI anatomical and metaphorical imagery focusing on pelvic anatomy and biomechanics.
ResultsNo difference (p > .05) was detected at baseline between drawn pelvis height and width. Following intervention, improvements were greater in the DNI group for pelvic schema (p < .01), drawn pelvic width (p < .05) and width-height difference (p < .05).
ConclusionsThis study suggests that DNI could serve as a rehabilitation path for improving body schema in people with PD. Future studies should explore DNI mechanisms of effect and the effect of enhanced pelvic schema on motor and non-motor deficits in this population.

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Dynamic Neuro-Cognitive Imagery Improves Mental Imagery Ability, Disease Severity, and Motor and Cognitive Functions in People with Parkinson’s Disease

by Amit Abraham,1,2 Ariel Hart,1 Isaac Andrade,3 and Madeleine E. Hackney1,4

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Effects of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic imagery interventions on dancers’ plié arabesques

by Teresa L. Heiland, Robert Rovetti, and Jan Dunn

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Examining effects of Franklin Method® metaphorical and anatomical mental images on college dancers’ jumping height

by Teresa Heiland & Robert Rovetti

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Looking beyond the binary: an extended paradigm for focus of attention in human motor performance

by Rebecca Gose & Amit Abraham

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