Therapeutic Role of Additional Mirror Therapy on the Recovery of Upper Extremity Motor Function after Stroke: A Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial

Neural Plast. 2022 Dec 31;2022:8966920. doi: 10.1155/2022/8966920. eCollection 2022.


Background: Rehabilitation of upper extremity hemiplegia after stroke remains a great clinical challenge, with only 20% of patients achieving a basic return to normal hand function. How to promote the recovery of motor function at an early stage is crucial to the life of the patient.

Objectives: To invest the effects of additional mirror therapy in improving upper limb motor function and activities of daily living in acute and subacute stroke patients, and further explore the effects of other factors on the efficacy of MT.

Methods: Participants who presented with unilateral upper extremity paralysis due to a first ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke were included in the study. They were randomly allocated to the experimental or control group. Patients in the control group received occupational therapy for 30 minutes each session, six times a week, for three weeks, while patients in the experimental group received 30 minutes of additional mirror therapy based on occupational therapy. The primary outcome measures were Fugl-Meyer Assessment-upper extremity (FMA-UE), Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), and Instrumental Activity of Daily Living (IADL) which were evaluated by two independent occupational therapists before treatment and after 3-week treatment. A paired t-test was used to compare the values between pretreatment and posttreatment within an individual group. Two-sample t-test was utilized to compare the changes (baseline to postintervention) between the two groups.

Results: A total of 52 stroke patients with unilateral upper extremity motor dysfunction who were able to actively cooperate with the training were included in this study. At baseline, no significant differences were found between groups regarding demographic and clinical characteristics (P > 0.05 for all). Upper limb motor function and ability to perform activities of daily living of the patients were statistically improved in both groups towards the third week (P < 0.05). In addition, statistical analyses showed more significant improvements in the score changes of FMA-UE and IADL in the experimental group compared to the control group after treatment (P < 0.05), but no significant difference was observed in the ARAT score changes between the two groups (P > 0.05). The subgroup analysis showed that no significant heterogeneity was observed in age, stroke type, lesion side, and clinical stage (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: In conclusion, some positive changes in aspects of upper limb motor function and the ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living compared with routine occupational therapy were observed in additional mirror therapy. Therefore, the application of additional mirror therapy training should be reconsidered to improve upper extremity motor in stroke patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Humans
  • Mirror Movement Therapy
  • Recovery of Function
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Upper Extremity