The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of mirror therapy on upper-limb recovery in early post-stroke patients.
Assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Inpatient rehabilitation clinic.
A total of 40 patients with upper-limb impairment due to a first-ever ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke, within four weeks from the cerebrovascular accident.
The intervention group received mirror therapy, while the control group received sham therapy. During mirror therapy, patients’ sound hand was reflected by a mirror. During sham therapy, an opaque surface replaced the mirror-reflecting surface. Both the mirror therapy and sham therapy groups practised their sound hand with exercises, ranging from the simple elbow flexion-extension to complex tasks (e.g. reaching and grasping). Mirror therapy and sham therapy were added to conventional rehabilitation.
Primary outcome includes Fugl-Meyer upper extremity scale. Secondary outcomes include action research arm test (ARAT) and functional independence measure (FIM) scale. Outcomes were measured at the beginning (T0) and end (T1) of the treatment.
At baseline, both groups (sham therapy vs. mirror therapy; mean (SD)) were comparable for Fugl-Meyer (30.9 (23.9) vs. 28.5 (21.8)), ARAT (25.1 (25.5) vs. 23.5 (24)) and FIM (71.0 (20.6) vs. 72.9 (17.8)) scores. At the end of the treatment, both groups significantly improved in the Fugl-Meyer (40.6 (21.3) vs. 38.3 (23.4)), ARAT (31.9 (23.0) vs. 30 (24.1)) and FIM (100.3 (21.9) vs. 99.4 (22.6)) scores. However, at T1, no significant difference was observed between the sham therapy and mirror therapy groups, neither for the Fugl-Meyer, nor for ARAT and FIM scores.
Compared with sham therapy, mirror therapy did not add additional benefit to upper-limb recovery early after stroke.