Objectives. Adding purpose to daily occupations to promote performance is a basic premise of occupational therapy. This study investigated the hypothesis that in persons with hemiplegia, two added-purpose occupations would elicit more exercise repetitions than a rote exercise.

Method. In a counterbalanced order, 21 subjects with hemiplegia, aged 51 to 78 years, experienced all three conditions of a dynamic standing balance exercise that involved bending down, reaching, standing up, and extending the arm. One condition of added purpose involved the use of materials (small balls and target); a second added-purpose condition involved the subjects’ imagination of the small balls. The third condition was the rote exercise without added purpose.

Results. A one-way analysis of variance for related measures indicated that the subjects performed significantly differently in each of the three conditions (p < .001). A Tukey multiple comparison test revealed that the subjects did significantly more exercise repetitions in the added-materials condition and in the imagery-based condition than in the rote exercise condition (p < .05).

Conclusion. This study demonstrates how added purpose can enhance motor performance in persons with hemiplegia. Purpose may be effectively added to an exercise through the use of materials or imagery.

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