The results of a new study scheduled to be presented at the annual American Academy of Neurology in April reveals that training videos can aid in improving motor skills, which may also help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. People learning a new skill may pick it up more quickly by watching videos of other people performing the same task; specifically, individuals who viewed training videos experienced 11 times greater improvement in their motor skills than people not provided the videos.

For the study, 36 healthy adults took part in 10 training sessions over 2 weeks, and all were asked to perform simple tasks with their dominant right hand after receiving a full explanation of what each task involved. The tasks included using cutlery or scissors, writing with a pen, hammering a nail, typing, and playing notes on a piano. Co-author of the study Paolo Preziosa, MD, an Italy-based neurologist, explains that half of the group watched videos beforehand of other people performing the same task, while the other half watched videos of landscapes.

The results of the study showed that after 2 weeks, the group given training videos experienced a tremendous improvement in motor skills, mainly in terms of their strength. In addition, MRI scans revealed that training videos appeared to boost the brain structure of the people who watched them, which increased the size of portions of the brain related to motor control and visual processing.

Preziosa says the findings suggest that such videos could help in the rehabilitation of stroke survivors as well as people who suffer from motor neuron diseases. Preziosa states, “Evidence suggests that this approach is an effective therapeutic intervention for regaining motor function.”

Glen Finney, MD, of the University of Florida College of Medicine, states the findings could apply to anyone preparing to try something new. Finney says, “It does suggest that this may be a good way to start. Especially for people who aren’t ready to do the actual activity, it may be the best way to prepare.”

[Source: Health Day]