A potential therapeutic intervention proposed by Dr Vilayanur S. Ramachandran to help minimize Phantom limb pain; A condition where patients still experience pain in a particular limb after amputation.
However, Mirror therapy is now widely used in upper-extremity rehabilitative care.
As a rehab care professional, you may be aware of therapy. If not, we are here to introduce you to the latest therapeutic techniques.
Most occupational therapists who work in upper-extremity stroke rehabilitation use the Mirror therapy technique because of its minimum requirements & cost-effectiveness. There is so much research to advance upper-extremity rehab care, and Mirror therapy is the successful outcome of researchers’ dedication and hard work.
Dr. Rogers-Dr. Ramachandran introduced this innovative technique to help patients with phantom limb pain. The visual feedback from the reflection of the intact limb in the place of the phantom limb helps the patient to perceive movement in the phantom limb
The success rate of this therapeutic intervention is high. Therefore, occupational therapists use mirror therapy to help patients with upper extremity impairment due to stroke and injuries. One can easily use Mirror therapy because it is a low-tech tool and highly convenient to implement in any kind of OT environment.
Before moving to the details, Let’s DEFINE it…
What is Mirror Therapy?
Mirror therapy is also known as Mirror Box Therapy. It is a neuromuscular treatment by nature to help patients who have just gone through a stroke to minimize pain and restore functions, and range of motion of the affected upper extremity, including the hand, wrist, and fingers.
Mirror therapy leverages the potential of the brain’s neuroplasticity property with the help of visual feedback.
In Mirror therapy, A mirror is positioned along the patient’s sagittal plane. Therefore, he is unable to see the side of the affected limb. Then occupational therapists ask the patient to do simple movements. The patient can see the movement of the healthy limb through the mirror. It works like a visual nudge on the brain, and he feels motivated to move the affected limb in the same way.
It is basically a way of tricking the brain. Mirror therapy activates neurons on both sides of the brain; therefore, they perceive motion similarly. Therefore, the patient gradually restored his motor functions and range of motion of the affected limb.
You can include this Mirror therapy technique to treat patients with upper limb impairment due to stroke and injury. Experts consider this technique a great therapeutic intervention for stroke rehabilitation. It helps patients to improve their motor functions, alleviates sensory impairment and manages their pain as well.
Significant advantages of including Mirror therapy in rehabilitative care
The upper extremity, including our shoulder, forearm, wrist, and finger functioning, is very important to accomplish our day-to-day activities or ADL. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), ADL refers to essential self-care functions that a person needs to complete daily, including eating, dressing, toileting, and grooming.
But patients lose their ability to accomplish ADL after stroke, arthritis, or other injuries. The reduced independence in ADL performance negatively influences patients’ overall health and well-being.
In this situation, occupational or hand therapists use Mirror therapy to restore their upper extremity functionality.
Now rehab care therapists prefer to use this innovative therapeutic intervention because:
- It is a low-cost technique
- Safe & easy to administer
- Minimum side effects
Mirror therapy: A potential approach to
- Pain management
- Sensorimotor re-education
- Boost performance of the daily living activities (ADL)
- Increase the functional capacity of the upper limb
Researchers suggest using mirror therapy in conjunction with other therapeutic methods to get a more effective and quick result.
Which patients can be treated with Mirror therapy?
A patient will be eligible to get Mirror therapy treatment if:
- He/ she has enough postural balance to sit independently in a wheelchair or normal chair
- He/she has clear vision to see the reflection of the unaffected limb in the mirror
- He/she can turn head to see the mirror
- He/she has enough cognitive ability to follow the therapist’s instruction
- He/she has the ability to visually attend to the limb in the mirror for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time
- He/she has one healthy limb with pain-free, sufficient functional range of motion to participate in the therapeutic activity.
Considering all of the above factors, it is clear that every patient is not eligible to receive mirror therapy treatment. Thus, you must check the patient’s present ability before implementing this therapeutic intervention.
Squegg, the grip strengthening hand therapy device also enables visual feedback thereby motivating the patients. The in-app games and activities encourage patients to do hand therapy exercises, thereby improving hand muscle movements. These game-focused hand muscle movements gradually help patients to improve cognitive function and motor skills as well.
So, try it out and leave feedback!
- The effect of mirror therapy on upper extremity functioning for patients post stroke: A systematic review -By Jefferson Journals (https://jdc.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=student_papers)
- Mirror Therapy for Stroke Rehab- By OT Spot (https://www.myotspot.com/mirror-therapy-for-stroke-rehab/)
- Mirror Therapy By Physiopedia ( https://www.physio-pedia.com/Mirror_Therapy)
- Mirror therapy for Phantom limb pain- (https://www.physio-pedia.com/images/1/11/Mirror.NEJM.pdf?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=related_articles&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal)
- Effects of Mirror Therapy on the upper Limb Functionality: A study on the perception of Occupational Therapists (https://ojs.bilpublishing.com/index.php/jgm)