Mental health occupational therapy

graded motor imagery

Delivered by a physiotherapist trained in GMI, this treatment for specific chronic pain states aims to give back flexibility and creativity to the brain via graded exposure.


Graded motor imagery (GMI) is an individually tailored treatment process which has successfully been used for persistent and complex pain states. It aims to give back flexibility and creativity to the brain via graded exposure.

The body of research evidence to date shows the effectiveness of graded motor imagery in the treatment of patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS-1).

There is also growing clinical evidence for the use of GMI to treat a range of complex neurogenic pain states including phantom limb pain, osteoarthritis knee pain and brachial plexus injuries.

How GMI works

Delivery of GMI follows a specific sequence starting with exercises least likely to activate the pain neurotag (ie implicit motor imagery or left right discrimination) and progressing to imagined movements and finally mirror work.

To assist with the success of this treatment, it will first be established that the patient has a sound understanding of the underlying pain neuroscience principles. The therapist will be guided by the individual's response at each stage of the treatment and will adapt the treatment accordingly. The therapist will ensure all parties have an understanding of the timeframe required to achieve optimal results.


Due to the individualised nature of the treatment, the process may last anywhere from a few weeks up to a few months, with an average of 10 sessions over 20 weeks being required. Treatment sessions are 30 minutes duration and usually at weekly to fortnightly intervals.

GMI is ideally run as a standalone treatment but can also run concurrently with other allied health therapy interventions.



More information

For further information about Graded Motor Imagery please contact us via email using the link below, or telephone 08 8352 6344.

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