Journal of Taiwan Occupational Therapy Research and Practice
Objective: Randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of mirror therapy (MT) in stroke patients have accumulated in recent years. However, systematic reviews that synthesize and integrate the effects of MT relative to control treatments remain limited. This systematic review was to synthesize studies that examined the effects of MT after stroke. Methods: Articles published between January 1950 and March 2012 were retrieved from electronic databases and manual search. Relevant references were also reviewed. To be eligible for inclusion, the study should involve a randomized controlled trial that studied the effects of MT compared to control interventions in stroke patients on upper limb motor function or activities of daily living. The effect size estimates were calculated for each outcome measure of the included studies. Results: Nine reports were eligible for inclusion. The results showed that most of the included studies used MT in addition to conventional therapy. The treatment protocols of MT focused on bilateral arm training with "moving the affected limb as could as possible". The review found that MT led to better improvements in motor impairment and motor function than control interventions, with moderate-to-large effect sizes. However, there was no conclusive evidence on the outcomes of sensory function, and lower limb function. Conclusion: This review supported the effects of MT on motor impairment and motor function in patients with acute and subacute. Future research is needed to study the effects of MT on functional and kinematic outcomes, the factors affecting MT outcomes, and underlying mechanisms of MT in larger samples.