Left/Right Discrimination

The process of identifying one side of the body as distinct from the other, or if a body part is rotating to the left or right.

The process of identifying one side of the body as distinct from the other.

Left/Right discrimination

Research shows people in pain often lose the ability to identify left or right images of their painful body part(s) (i.e. when viewing pictures of body parts they are slower and/or less accurate than somebody without pain at determining whether the image is a Left or Right).

This ability appears to be important for normal recovery from pain. The good news is that the brain is plastic and changeable, if given the right training for long enough. So with the appropriate tools, a bit of work, patience and persistence, it is possible to improve the ability (speed and accuracy) to discriminate between Left and Right body parts and movements.

Training tips

  • Is it a left or right? When doing these exercises with hands, feet, knees and shoulders your aim will be to determine whether the body part is from the left or the right side. For example, is it a left shoulder or a right shoulder?
  • Has it moved to the left or right? For all spinal and facial exercises (backs, necks, faces) you want to answer whether the body part has twisted, turned or moved to the left or right. For example, is he leaning to the left or right?
  • Some useful tools for training in left/right discrimination are the online Recognise software, Recognise Apps, Recognise Flash Cards and other readily available tools such as magazines (with people pictures), Google images, Facebook photos, photo albums.
  • See 'what is normal' for our current ideas on the level of results you should aim for.

So what is normal

Left/right judgement tasks are required to fall within a certain range of speed (average response time in seconds) and accuracy (percentage of correct answers) to be considered as normal. Compare the 'normal' figures below with your own Recognise results. Note the changes in your Recognise results as you practise and progress through the different levels of difficulty.

Our broad suggestions for normal responses to a left/right discrimination test are:

  • Accuracy of 80% and above.
  • A speed of 1.6 seconds +/- 0.5 sec appears quite normal for necks and backs. Hands and feet are a little slower with an average speed of 2 seconds +/- 0.5 sec. Based on these figures we would suggest that around 2 seconds is quite normal for other body parts such as knees and shoulders.
  • Accuracies and response times should be reasonably equal for the left and right.
  • Results should be stable (eg they don't fade out with stress) and are consistent for at least a week.
  • A judgement will also be needed on the personal relevancy of the responses. For example, minor left/right discrimination changes may not be so relevant in a person who has a severe pain related incapacity whereas they may be more relevant in a person with a much more minor problem. This is a clinical reasoning judgement.

NOTE: these 'normal' results are based on studies of hundreds of people and act as a guide only. There may be reasons why, after months of practise, you still find it impossible to get results within these normal ranges. Aim for the normal range and give it a real go but don't be upset if you can't get there!

For more information see The Graded Motor Imagery Handbook or Graded Motor Imagery Ebook, Moseley, Butler, Beames, Giles, Noigroup Publications, 2012


Recognise Online

Test your left/right discrimination today with a FREE trial using our specially designed neuroplasticity tool.


G.M.I. Resources

A few products from the good people at Neuro Orthopaedic Institute.

recognise online

Recognise Online

This is a comprehensive online left/right discrimination and motor imagery training program. Access your personal account anywhere in the world and perform a range of  neuroplasticity exercises, gradually increasing the difficulty of tasks as you improve. Recognise User Guide

noigroup mirror box

Mirror Box

Thoughtfully designed for mirror therapy, the NOI Mirror Box is light, portable, hygienic and safe. Sturdy Perspex mirror 300mm x 300mm. Comes with explanations and instructions.

noigroup apps

Apps

Simple and portable applications for left/right discrimination exercises with test options and accurately stored results. Available iPhone and android .

flashcards

Flash Cards

These sets of 48 cards (24 left and 24 right) are ideal for left/right discrimination exercises and further motor imagery tasks. Currently available as: Hands, feet, backs, necks, shoulders and knees.

graded motor imagery pack

Graded Motor Imagery pack

Set yourself up with a complete toolbox developed over years of research, clinical and anecdotal experience to get the most out of graded motor imagery.