Use of information feedback and attentional focus of feedback in treating the person with a hemiplegic arm

Katherine Durham, Paulette Van Vliet, Frances Badger, Catherine Sackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose. Feedback about motor performance can induce either an internal focus of attention (about body movement) or an external focus of attention (about the effects on the environment) in the learner. The main aim of this pilot study was to examine the attentional focus of feedback given by physiotherapists during treatment of the hemiplegic arm. A second aim was to examine the frequency of feedback about motor performance during treatment. Method. A multi-methods design was used (quantitative and qualitative). Eight physiotherapists and eight patients with stroke were recruited from two hospitals. Data were collected by video recordings of treatment, interviews (both therapists and patients) and questionnaire (therapists). Information feedback, instructions and motivational statements were identified from the video recordings. Feedback and instructions were further grouped into internal focus, external focus or mixed focus of attention. Themes were drawn from the interview transcripts. Triangulation was used to provide corroborating information from the different data sets. Results. Two hundred and forty-six of the total 1914 statements identified in the videos were feedback, the rest comprising instructions and statements of motivation. Of the feedback statements, 236 of the total 247 identified had an internal focus. Therapist interviews and questionnaires revealed more external focus communication than actual treatment. Conclusions. Physiotherapists used instructions and statements of motivation more than feedback and directed the patient's attention more to body movement than movement effects. The outcome of this study may prompt clinicians' to examine the amount and the attentional focus of the feedback they use in their clinical practice, and to consider whether it is a most effective approach in light of current evidence. Copyright (c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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