Exploring pain interference with motor skill learning in humans: a protocol for a systematic review

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Introduction Motor skill learning is intrinsic to living. Pain demands attention and may disrupt non-pain-related goals such as learning new motor skills. Although rehabilitation approaches have used motor skill learning for individuals in pain, there is uncertainty on the impact of pain on learning motor skills. Methods and analysis The protocol of this systematic review has been designed and is reported in accordance with criteria set out by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols guidelines. Web of Science, Scopus, MEDLINE, Embase and CINAHL databases; key journals; and grey literature will be searched up until March 2021, using subject-specific searches. Two independent assessors will oversee searching, screening and extracting of data and assessment of risk of bias. Both behavioural and activity-dependent plasticity outcome measures of motor learning will be synthesised and presented. The quality of evidence will be assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach. Ethics and dissemination No patient data will be collected, and therefore, ethical approval was not required for this review. The results of this review will provide further understanding into the complex effects of pain and may guide clinicians in their use of motor learning strategies for the rehabilitation of individuals in pain. The results of this review will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and presented at scientific conferences. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020213240.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere045841
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • neurophysiology
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • sports medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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