Mirror therapy (MT) has been proposed to improve the motor function of chronic individuals with stroke with mild to moderate impairment. With regards to severe upper limb paresis, MT has shown to provide limited motor improvement in the acute or sub-acute phase. However, no previous research has described the effects of MT in chronic individuals with stroke with severely impaired upper limb function.
The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of MT on chronic stroke survivors with severe upper-limb impairment in comparison with passive mobilization.
A randomized controlled trial.
Rehabilitative outpatient unit.
A total of 31 chronic subjects poststroke with severely impaired upper limb function were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (N.=15), or a control group (N.=16).
Twenty-four intervention sessions were performed for both groups. Each session included 45-minute period of MT (experimental group) or passive mobilization (control group), administered three days a week. Participants were assessed before and after the intervention with the Wolf Motor Function Test, the Fugl-Meyer Assessment, and the Nottingham Sensory Assessment.
Improvement in motor function was observed in both groups on the time (P=0.002) and ability (P=0.001) subscales of the Wolf Motor Function Test. No differences were detected in kinesthesis or stereognosis. However, the experimental group showed a significant improvement in tactile sensation that was mainly observed as an increased sensitivity to light touches.
In comparison with passive mobilization, MT in chronic stroke survivors with severely impaired upper-limb function may provide a limited but positive effect on light touch sensitivity while providing similar motor improvement.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT:
MT is a therapeutic approach that can be used in the rehabilitation of severely impaired upper limb in chronic stroke survivors, specifically to address light touch sensitivity deficits.