Recovery in the Severely Impaired Arm Post-stroke after Mirror Therapy – a Randomized Controlled Study

This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of mirror therapy (MT) on recovery in the severely impaired arm after stroke.

Using single-blind randomized controlled design, patients with severely impaired arm within 1-month post-stroke were assigned to received MT (n=20) or control therapy (CT) (n=21), 30min. twice daily for 4 weeks in addition to conventional rehabilitation. During MT and CT, subjects practiced similar structured exercises in both arms, except that mirror reflection of the unaffected arm was the visual feedback for MT, but mirror was absent for CT so that subjects could watch both arms in exercise. Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) and Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) were the outcome measurements.

After the intervention, both MT and CT groups had significant arm recovery similarly in FMA (p=0.867), WMFT-Time (p=0.947) and WMFT-Functional Ability Scale (p=0.676). MT or CT which involved exercises concurrently for the paretic and unaffected arms during subacute stroke promoted similar motor recovery in the severely impaired arm.