Objective: Mental rotation of objects and the frame of reference of those objects are critical for executing correct and skillful movements and are important for object recognition, spatial navigation, and movement planning. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to compare the mental rotation ability of those with subclinical neck pain (SCNP) to healthy controls at baseline and after 4 weeks.
Methods: Twenty-six volunteers (13 SCNP and 12 healthy controls) were recruited from a university student population. Subclinical neck pain participants had scores of mild to moderate on the Chronic Pain Grade Scale, and controls had minimal or no pain. For the mental rotation task, participants were presented with an object (letter “R”) on a computer screen presented randomly in either normal or backwards parity at various orientations (0°, 45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 225°, 270°, and 315°). Participants indicated the object's parity by pressing “N” for normal or “B” for backwards. Each orientation for normal and backward parities was presented 5 times, and the average response time for all letter presentations was calculated for each participant, at baseline and 4 weeks later.
Results: Both groups had overall improved response times from baseline to 4 weeks. Healthy participants had significantly improved response times compared to SCNP, both at baseline (P < .05) and 4 weeks (P < .05).
Conclusions: Healthy participants performed better than the SCNP group at both time points. Subclinical neck pain may impair the ability to perform a complex mental rotation task involving cerebellar connections, possibly due to altered body schema.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher; full text is available by subscription. Click on the above link and select a publisher from PubMed’s LinkOut feature.