Mental Practice

Research has shown that mentally practicing an activity only using your mind is just as important to the brain's recovery as actually performing the activity. It re-wires the brain to build new pathways that control the movement of your arm and leg.  

Studies have shown that incorporating mental practice into your home exercise program leads to better results than just home exercises alone. It's important to keep consistent in order to allow your brain time to re-wire itself.  So perform the same mental practice routine daily for one or more weeks. 

Try these different forms of mental practice:

1. Close your eyes and imagine your body performing desired tasks: driving a car, running in a field, jumping over a creek, knitting with both hands. 

2. Close your eyes and watch yourself performing desired tasks as if you were looking through a lens; like watching yourself on TV. 

3. Close your eyes and imagine yourself performing one of your home exercises with your affected arm or leg (examples include: raising your hand to your ear, reaching behind your back, grasping and releasing a ball). 

4. You can also listen to pre-recorded mental practice sessions on the SaeboMind website. 

Mental Practice Activity Sample

Step 1. Watch this video of a sample home mental practice routine:

Step 2. Sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and listen to the same video. Imagine yourself performing the routine as you are listening. 

Step 3. Now return to the table and watch the video while performing the routine with your affected arm.

Complete steps 1-3 daily for at least one week before adding a new routine. 


  • PAGE, S. J., & PETERS, H. (2014). Mental practice: Applying motor PRACTICE and neuroplasticity principles to increase upper extremity function. Stroke (1970), 45(11), 3454-3460.

Page updated: 3/4/22