To determine if impairment in motor imagery processes is present in Achilles tendinopathy (AT), as demonstrated by a reduced ability to quickly and accurately identify the laterality (left-right judgement) of a pictured limb. Additionally, this study aimed to use a novel data pooling approach to combine data collected at 3 different sites via meta-analytical techniques that allow exploration of heterogeneity.


Multi-site case-control study.


Three independent studies with similar protocols were conducted by separate research groups. Each study-site evaluated left/right judgement performance for images of feet and hands using Recognise© software and compared performance between people with AT and healthy controls. Results from each study-site were independently collated, then combined in a meta-analysis.


In total, 126 participants (40 unilateral, 22 bilateral AT cases, 61 controls) were included. There were no differences between AT cases and controls for hand image accuracy and reaction time. Contrary to the hypothesis, there were no differences in performance between those with AT and controls for foot image reaction time, however there were conflicting findings for foot accuracy, based on four separate analyses. There were no differences between the affected and unaffected sides in people with unilateral AT.


Impairments in motor imagery performance for hands were not found in this study, and we found inconsistent results for foot accuracy. This contrasts to studies in persistent pain of limbs, face and knee osteoarthritis, and suggests that differences in pathoetiology or patient demographics may uniquely influence proprioceptive representation.


Achilles, Tendinopathy, Left right judgement, Pain, Motor imagery, Foot

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