What is mirror therapy? If you are unfamiliar with mirror therapy, it may seem like something that is made up. Although mirror therapy sounds far-fetched, it is an efficient way to help patients with various ailments.
Mirror therapy is used to trick the brain with a reflective illusion so an affected limb can move without pain. This illusion is done with a mirror box. A mirror box has a mirror in the center of it and has two other sides to help cover up the affected limb. The affected limb is placed behind the mirror box so the patient can only see their unaffected limb moving in the reflection of the mirror. This tricks the brain into thinking that the affected limb is moving without pain or discomfort.
Mirror therapy was initially invented to help patients who suffered from Phantom Limb Pain. A patient may experience pain in the area where a limb was recently amputated. Mirror therapy was utilized to essentially retrain the patient’s brain to think that they still had the capability to move their amputated limb. The visual feedback the patient would receive would help them conceptualize the lack of pain in their affected limb. There are some studies that have shown using mirror therapy to reduce pain in different conditions. Studies suggest that people who have suffered from a stroke or who have Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 have benefited from mirror therapy.
Mirror therapy is not always effective in helping patients with pain. There have only been a handful of studies conducted, and some have shown no progress. In some cases, there is a reduction in pain and increased mobility. Patients who have suffered from a stroke have shown results of increased mobility in the affected areas. Other studies suggest that mirror therapy should be practiced often but at small intervals of time. Five times a day for five minutes at a time is a suggestion for patients participating in mirror therapy. The consistency of mirror therapy should be at the patient’s discretion.
Mirror therapy should be used as an alternative or additional practice to a standard treatment of pain and increased mobility. Professionals should only recommend mirror therapy if the patient has not responded to other traditional treatment options.