Canadian physiotherapists' self-reported attentional focus use for instructions and feedback in rehabilitation


Research on a wide array of populations and tasks has shown that adopting an external focus (EF) of attention (i.e., attention on movement outcome) enhances motor performance and learning as compared to adopting an internal focus (IF; attention on movement kinematics). Given that the goal of much research is to have findings translated into applied settings, the aim of this study was to determine the relative percentage of time that Canadian physiotherapists would use IF and EF statements in their practice. To do this, a questionnaire was designed that included six scenarios: three for which physiotherapists would provide feedback and three for which instruction would be given to clients. For each scenario, an IF and an EF cue were presented and physiotherapists selected the percentage of time each would be provided to a client. Questionnaires were distributed both online and as paper copies through clinics, and at the CPA's annual forum; preliminary data was collected for N=62 physiotherapists (mean age= 43 ± 12 years). Overall, results showed that participants self-reported an average relative frequency of IF statements of 66.6% (SD=19.6) for feedback and 70.5% (SD=16.0) for instruction. However, cue provision appears to be task-dependent, since a majority of physiotherapists self-reported providing EF cues more often than IF ones for a functional reaching task and a strength training scenario. Gaining a comprehension of rehabilitation tasks, and the effect of their unique features for physiotherapists' use of attentional focus cues, is essential to inform the design of possible future educational workshops.