Mirror therapy is a research-supported technique that uses visual stimuli of your unaffected arm to improve function of your affected arm. Mirror therapy tricks your brain into thinking your affected arm is moving the same way as your unaffected arm. As you progress through mirror therapy, your brain creates new pathways which become more permanent and allow for improved movement of your affected arm. It is most helpful to work with an occupational therapist to learn a mirror therapy protocol.
You will need a sturdy table-top mirror that is at least 14x10 inches. You can purchase an official Mirror Box Therapy Kit or purchase a less expensive mirror like this Tabletop Mirror.
How mirror therapy is performed:
- Seated at a table with both arms resting on the table, the mirror should be placed between your arms facing your unaffected side.
- Your affected arm can rest comfortable on the table behind the mirror.
- Your unaffected arm should be placed in a position that you can see its reflection clearly in the mirror.
- To begin, perform simple motions with your unaffected hand and try to visualize the reflection as your affected hand. Perform larger motions with your unaffected arm until you feel comfortable visualizing the reflection as your affected arm.
- As you progress, more functional activities and activities including objects can be used as part of your routine.
- It's important to check-in with an occupational therapist to modify your home program. Research has proven that you may not see results for at least 6 weeks.
For more information about mirror therapy and how it works, view the video below:
Reference: Thieme H, Morkisch N, Mehrholz J, Pohl M, Behrens J, Borgetto B, Dohle C. Mirror therapy for improving motor function after stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD008449. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008449.pub3