Perceptual Changes in People with Shoulder Pain – Recognising Laterality

Could You Recognise Your Own Shoulder?

Research shows that people in pain often lose the ability to identify left or right images of their painful body part(s).

What this means, is when viewing pictures of body parts (for example, the shoulder) it is highly likely that you will be slower and/or less accurate than somebody without shoulder pain at determining whether the image is a Left shoulder or Right shoulder.

This ability to discriminate appears to be important for normal recovery from pain.

The good news for you is that the brain is plastic and changeable. If you consistently give your brain the right kind of exercise and recognition training, using appropriate tools, a bit of hard work, patience and persistence, it is possible for you to improve the ability (speed and accuracy) to discriminate between Left and Right body parts and movements.

Getting better at recognising left and right body parts and movements has been shown to reduce pain, aides recovery from injury and improves performance. To help you improve your ability to recognise, move and function without shoulder pain, an Australian company the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute or NoiGroup have developed a great range of Recognise and Graded Motor Imagery tools which you can check out here.

What Could You Do Next?

Using the neuroscientific principals of recognition and motor imagery, you could:

Imagine yourself moving your painful shoulder but without actually moving it.

This simple yet often difficult act of imagining movement uses similar brain areas you would normally use when you normally move. This is why a golfer might imagine or visualise the ball going into the hole before they actually putt.
You might have done something similar yourself when playing sport?
Look at images of people and body parts particularly shoulders and arms.

Try and answer as quick as you can “which is it…Left or Right? and/or “which direction is it moving…Left or Right?” The speed and accuracy of your answers is important and should be answered in 1.6 seconds +/- 0.5sec with an 80% or above accuracy to be considered relatively normal as far as we know currently.

You Could Help Us Learn More?

This is important, because your help will enable us to learn more about shoulder laterality and our ability to treat people with shoulder pain better.

A colleague of mine, John Breckenridge is doing a very interesting study on shoulder laterality and it would mean a great deal to me and to him if you could spend a few moments of your time practicing your recognition skills.

You never know you just might learn something about yourself?

So I invite you to participate in John’s research project which is investigating perceptual changes in people with shoulder pain compared to people without. We know from previous research that some people with longstanding hand or arm pain have difficulty recognising the laterality (left from right) of a picture of their affected hand (perception difficulties).

The aim of the study is to establish whether the same effects are seen in people with shoulder problems. This could lead us to better understand shoulder pain and in turn help us to develop more effective treatment strategies.

To do this John will investigate the accuracy and response time for the left/right judgement task of the shoulder in a normal healthy population and compare the results to those with shoulder pain.

Got shoulder pain then give this little test a go!

For the Shoulder Laterality Study Flyer – CLICK HERE!

Click the image below to access the online shoulder laterality test – Good Luck!

Reference: Neuro Orthopaedic Institute


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