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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 5651391, 9 pages
Research Article

Motor Imagery during Action Observation of Locomotor Tasks Improves Rehabilitation Outcome in Older Adults after Total Hip Arthroplasty

1Institute for Kinesiology Research, Science and Research Centre Koper, Koper, Slovenia
2Department of Health Sciences, Alma Mater Europaea-ECM, Maribor, Slovenia
3EA4660, C3S Culture Sport Health Society, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
4Valdoltra Orthopaedic Hospital, Ankaran, Slovenia
5Department of Medicine, Movement and Sport Sciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland

Correspondence should be addressed to Uros Marusic; moc.kooltuo@cisuramu

Received 23 November 2017; Accepted 4 February 2018; Published 19 March 2018

Academic Editor: Michela Bassolino

Copyright © 2018 Uros Marusic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study aimed at determining whether the combination of action observation and motor imagery (AO + MI) of locomotor tasks could positively affect rehabilitation outcome after hip replacement surgery. Of initially 405 screened participants, 21 were randomly split into intervention group (; mean age = 64 y; AO + MI of locomotor tasks: 30 min/day in the hospital, then 3×/week in their homes for two months) and control group (, mean age = 63 y, active controls). The functional outcomes (Timed Up and Go, TUG; Four Step Square Test, FSST; and single- and dual-task gait and postural control) were measured before (PRE) and 2 months after surgery (POST). Significant interactions indicated better rehabilitation outcome for the intervention group as compared to the control group: at POST, the intervention group revealed faster TUG (), FSST (), and dual-task fast-paced gait speed (), reduced swing-time variability (), and enhanced cognitive performance during dual tasks while walking or balancing (). In contrast, no changes were observed for body sway parameters (). These results demonstrate that AO + MI is efficient to improve motor-cognitive performance after hip surgery. Moreover, only parameters associated with locomotor activities improved whereas balance skills that were not part of the AO + MI intervention were not affected, demonstrating the specificity of training intervention. Overall, utilizing AO + MI during rehabilitation is advised, especially when physical practice is limited.