Background: Gender differences, in favor of males, exist in motor skills and motor imagery (MI) ability in healthy people. The MI ability in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients was altered; however, the reduction rate in the two genders has not been compared. Knowing the gender difference in MI may be used in rehabilitation programs based on MI.
Objectives: Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate whether gender difference in MI is evident in MS patients.
Methods: Forty-nine relapse-remitting MS patients (23 men) and also 51 healthy subjects (21 men) participated in this case-control study. The MI ability can be measured by Kinesthetic and Visual Imagery Questionnaire-20 (KVIQ-20), mental chronometry based on Box and Block test, and hand mental rotation task.
Results: Healthy men performed most MI tasks better than healthy women. Unlike healthy participants, no gender differences were observed in the KVIQ-20 scale (P=0.904), mental chronometry duration (right hand, P=0.199; left hand, P=0.374) and reaction time of hand mental rotation (right-hand stimuli, P=0.057; left-hand stimuli, P=0.059). However, MS men responded to hand stimuli significantly more accurately than MS women (right-hand stimuli, P=0.007; left-hand stimuli, P=0.027).
Conclusion: Our findings showed that MS men exhibit MI abilities similar to MS women. Perhaps motor deficit in MS males was influenced more by neurocognitive impairment. Perhaps in MS men as compared to MS women, MI practice as motor rehabilitation, could better improve their physical performance.
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