Purpose of Review
Ramachandran (Nature 377:489–490, 1995) showed that in amputees, phantom limb pain described as a spasming or immobile phantom limb can be alleviated by watching their reflection of the intact limb in a parasagittally placed mirror while moving the intact limb and the phantom simultaneously. This suggested that therapy via mirror visual feedback—mirror therapy—might be considered for other diseases and conditions characterized by poor mobility. We were the first to show that mirror therapy might be beneficial for hemiparesis following stroke. There have now been numerous case reports and studies of mirror therapy for hemiparesis following stroke.
Overall, the majority of studies done thus far on patients with hemiparesis in the subacute or chronic phase following stroke find mirror therapy to be more beneficial than control treatments. Even when mirror therapy is not superior to control therapy, the reason for this is there are similar improvements in both groups. There have not been adverse effects in patients that perform mirror therapy for hemiparesis following stroke.
There appears to be a benefit of mirror therapy for hemiparesis following stroke in the subacute and chronic phase. Trial of mirror therapy for hemiparesis may be warranted. Further study of mirror therapy for hemiparesis following stroke will be welcomed; in particular, it would be important to study different groups of patients given the heterogeneity of stroke.