Mirror Therapy

Neuroplasticity Made Easier
Most recovery from stroke requires neuroplastic "rewiring" of the brain. Forging neuroplastic changes usually involves an incredible amount of effort. There is, however, at least one option that stroke survivors can use that does not burn through a lot of resources and is a simple and effective adjunct to traditional therapy. Enter mirror therapy

Mirror therapy uses mirrors to give an illusion that the brain interprets as movement of their involved hand or limb. Mirror therapy can be helpful in treating spasticity and also its opposite, flaccidity

Mirror therapy has these advantages:
  • requires very little training
  • people with very little movement can do it
  • is easy to set up
  • is not taxing to the user
  • has been shown to be effective
The user places the affected limb behind the mirror (or inside the mirror box) and their unaffected limb in front of the mirror. Seeing the reflection of the unaffected limb, the patient receives visual feedback from a virtual image of their affected limb appearing as if it is normal.

Scanning the brain has shown that the brain can start to rewire itself to compensate for the damaged limb by using mirror therapy. Improvements come with repeated exercises. This is neuroplasticity at its finest!

  • Remove jewelry and watches so that the illusion of the reflection is as credible as possible. 
  • When the move your stronger hand in front of the mirror, try to do the same movements with your weaker (hidden) hand.
  • Simple, basic movements work best like opening/closing your hand or touching each finger to the thumb, one by one.
  • Practice at least 30 minutes a day. 

See also:

Buying a mirror box
There are several main sources of mirror boxes:

Making your own mirror box
If these sound too pricey, you can build one yourself cheaply and easily! You can follow my detailed instructions on making your own mirror box, like this:

Alternately, you can follow some internet instructions or the following videos:

Making a mirror box out of a cardboard box
(ignore the stuff about phantom limb after 2:30).