Mirror therapy has been proposed as an effective intervention for lower limb rehabilitation post stroke.
This systematic review with meta-analysis examined if lower limb mirror therapy improved the primary outcome measures of muscle tone and motor function and the secondary outcome measures balance characteristics, functional ambulation, walking velocity, passive range of motion (PROM) for ankle dorsiflexion and gait characteristics in patients with stroke compared to other interventions.
Standardised mean differences (SMD) and mean differences (MD) were used to assess the effect of mirror therapy on lower limb functioning.
Nine studies were included in the review. Among the primary outcome measures there was evidence of a significant effect of mirror therapy on motor function compared with sham and non-sham interventions (SMD 0.54; 95% CI 0.24-0.93). Furthermore, among the secondary outcome measures there was evidence of a significant effect of mirror therapy for balance capacity (SMD -0.55; 95% CI -1.01 to -0.10), walking velocity (SMD 0.71; 95% CI 0.35-1.07), PROM for ankle dorsiflexion (SMD 1.20; 95% CI 0.71-1.69) and step length (SMD 0.56; 95% CI -0.00 to 1.12).
The results indicate that using mirror therapy for the treatment of certain lower limb deficits in patients with stroke may have a positive effect. Although results are somewhat positive, overly favourable interpretation is cautioned due to methodological issues concerning included studies.