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Why is pain affecting my ability to recognise left and right?

Pain can be a pain! It affects how you feel on a day to day basis, and pain that lingers on and on can really start to get in the way of many tasks you used to be able to do pain free. When pain sets in, there is still many options for helping reduce the pain. Graded Motor Imagery is one tool we use often at Riverina Hand Therapy for people who have ongoing pain.

Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) is the most up to date rehabilitation program, based on the latest science and clinical trials, to treat complex pain and movement problems. Graded Motor Imagery has been shown to offer substantial improvements in pain and disability, even in the most complex or difficult pain states. The evidence is also emerging that GMI is effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome and even osteoarthritis.

We now know that your brain is adaptable and changeable throughout your entire life and by exercising your brain in measured and monitored steps, which increase as progress is made, GMI can treat difficult and ongoing pain problems.

Graded motor imagery is broken down into three unique stages of treatment techniques, each exercising your brain in different ways.

1. Left/right discrimination

2. Explicit motor imagery

3. Mirror therapy

Left/Right Discrimination is the process of identifying one side of the body as distinct from the other, or if a body part is rotating to the left or right. Research shows people in pain often lose the ability to identify left or right images of their painful body part(s) (i.e. when viewing pictures of body parts they are slower and/or less accurate than somebody without pain at determining whether the image is a Left or Right). This ability appears to be important for normal recovery from pain. The good news is that the brain is plastic and changeable, if given the right training for long enough. So with the appropriate tools, a bit of work, patience and persistence, it is possible to improve the ability (speed and accuracy) to discriminate between Left and Right body parts and movements.

Some useful tools for training in left/right discrimination are the online Recognise software, Recognise Apps, Recognise Flash Cards and other readily available tools such as magazines (with people pictures), Google images, Facebook photos, photo albums.

Using Recognise™ has been shown to reduce pain, improve performance and assist with rehabilitation in a range of complex pain, and injury states, when used as part of a Graded Motor Imagery programme.

Using the Recognise App can allow you to:

· Test your ability to quickly and accurately recognise an image of a body area as either left or right

· Train your brain and harness its neuroplasticity using a range of tools.

The Recognise App allows you to complete your home exercises with ease wherever you may be. It provides you with detailed onscreen results and graphs to map your progress, as well as the ability to export and email your results directly to therapist.

You can also download the Recognise App from the App Store and Google Play.

If you have ongoing pain and would like some help and solutions, come and see us. You can book online through our home page. We are here to help and we don't judge.


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