Acta Neurol Belg 2019 Jun 15;119(2):175-186. Epub 2019 Apr 15.
Amity Institute of Neuropsychology and Neurosciences (AINN), Amity University UP, Room No. 222A, J1 Block, Sector 125, Noida, 201303, India.
Mental imagery is a quasi-perceptual experience in the absence of external stimuli. This concept has intrigued psychologists, sportspersons, neurologists and other scientists for over a decade now. Imagery has been used in rehabilitation and the results have been promising. Researchers refer to this as healing the body through the mind. However, the challenge is lack of standardized protocols, homogeneity and consistency in application of mental imagery in different populations. The purpose of this review is to discuss and understand the role of mental imagery in the treatment of central neuropathic pain (CNP). Treatment options of CNP are inadequate and their benefits are short lived. We conducted an extensive search on various databases using combinations of different keywords and reviewed the available literature in this area. We were able to finalize twelve studies where mental imagery was used for treating CNP in spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke and multiple sclerosis. However, the methodology and techniques of mental imagery training used in these studies were non-homogeneous and inconsistent. This review provides a guiding framework to further explore the different techniques of mental imagery and their roles in treating CNP.