The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning

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In terms of motivation, patients do not have a large amount of autonomy over their injury because of the fact they are doing rehabilitation. The rehab is mostly directed by the physiotherapist or physician. Another important factor in terms of motivation is expectations in regards to what a patient can expect doing certain exercise and what is the outcome from them (in which is usually unknown). However, this results in an increased self-focus with a high amount of attention to the patient himself and less attention to the task of the goal. Subsequently, motor performance and motor learning go down. This has a lot to due to motivation. The motivation can be influenced by the “wrong” expectation throughout the rehab, but can also be due to the content of exercise programme that we give to the patient.

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In contrast to above, the physical therapist / instructor / trainer who gives the learner choices, provides feedback at the request of the learner, highlights good aspects of task performance while mostly ignoring mistakes, avoids references to body movements, and instead directs the performer’s attention externally to the task goal. In this case, enhanced performance expectancies and perceptions of autonomy would likely increase along with learners’ self-efficacy. Confidence in the learners’ ability to perform well, in combination with an instructed external focus, should facilitate successful movement outcomes. This will further promote self-efficacy and positive affect that helps solidify good performance, resulting in overall positive consequences for learning and motivation

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