Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) causes difficulties with everyday manual activities, but few studies have addressed these therapeutically. Training with action observation (AO) and motor imagery (MI) can produce significant improvements in healthy individuals’ performance, particularly when these techniques are applied simultaneously (AO+MI). Both AO and MI have shown promising effects in PD, but previous studies have used these separately. This article describes the development and pilot testing of an intervention combining AO+MI and physical practice to improve functional manual actions in PD. Methods: The home-based intervention, delivered using a tablet computer app, was iteratively designed by an interdisciplinary team including people with PD, and further developed through focus groups and initial testing. The intervention was then tested in a six-week RCT with participants with mild to moderate PD: 6 participants received the training and 4 received treatment as usual (ISRCTN 11184024). Results and Conclusions: Usage and qualitative data provided preliminary evidence of acceptability and usability, indicating that a feasibility RCT is warranted. Exploratory analyses suggested potential improvements in manual actions. The importance of personalisation, choice, and motivation was highlighted, as well as the need to facilitate engagement in motor imagery. The findings also have broader relevance for AO+MI interventions in PD and other populations.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience