Translating Motor Control Concepts in Physical Therapy


There is increasing interest in understanding the mechanisms of neuroplasticity in the intact brain and how these shape the body’s response to neurological injury and as well as the recovery process (Kleim and Jones 2008). In order to apply this understanding to clinical practice, a good knowledge of motor control and motor learning principles is needed (Levin et al. 2015). This workshop will review the principles of movement production according to current theories of motor control including the action-perception theory, dynamical theory and the equilibrium point theory (Turvey et al. 1982; Latash et al. 2010; O’Brien and Bracewell 2010). In particular, how motor control principles such as redundancy, stability and affordances can be incorporated into clinical practice will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on distinguishing between outcomes describing motor recovery and compensation (Levin et al. 2009).


Awareness and application of the principles of motor control and motor learning will improve outcomes of sensorimotor motor rehabilitation.


By the end of this workshop, participants will learn the following:

1. Appreciate the historical perspective and philosophy of motor control;

2. Understand current theories of the production and organization of movement;

3. Be able to critically appraise the merits and drawbacks of different motor control theories as they apply to clinical practice;

4. Appreciate the importance of assessing movement quality in order to evaluate motor behavioural recovery and compensation.


The workshop will be presented in three sections:

1. Historical and philosophical perspective of motor control

2. Major theories of motor control and their implications for clinical practice

3. Motor recovery in neurological rehabilitation versus compensation and their measurement


Participants will be asked to fill in a feedback assessment at the completion of the workshop.