This study reviewed the current evidence on the effectiveness of mirror therapy (MT) on improving the motor functions of the hemiplegic lower extremity (LE) in adult clients with stroke.
A systematic review was conducted of studies published in English in the 10-year period 2005–2015, retrieved from seven electronic databases: Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, PsychInfo, Science Direct, Cochrane and TBI Rehabilitation. Only articles that focused on the effects of MT on hemiparesis affecting LE function and performance were included. The methodological quality of the studies was appraised using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale (PEDro).
The literature search yielded 14 studies that satisfied the selection criteria, of which five (4 randomised controlled trials and 1 case study) were reviewed after screening. Despite the heterogeneity of the studies, they showed MT to be effective in improving some of the motor functions of the LE at different stages of stroke. However, they offered little evidence on MT’s long-term effects and for when is the optimal stage to start MT after stroke onset.
Further research is needed to determine the best treatment regimen and optimal time to initiate MT intervention in terms of the phases of stroke. No firm conclusions can be drawn on the effectiveness of MT on the hemiplegic LE until more evidence is available.