Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic

Publication Date

2011

Clinical Scenario

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is the leading cause of long-term disability and third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Considering that 75% of all CVAs strike older adults (NINDS) and the first of 78-million baby boomers are turning 65 (Love, 2010), discerning best practice in stroke rehabilitation must be a top priority. Is there a role for mirror therapy (MT) in rehab for some stroke patients? MT is simple to perform, cost-effective and client-directed. Many of the clients I now see in an outpatient occupational therapy clinic have hemiparesis in their upper extremities but are otherwise healthy and motivated. These traits led me to wonder whether mirror therapy might help these clients regain functional movement and more actively participate in meaningful life activities.

Clinical Question

How does mirror therapy impact occupational function in clients who have suffered stroke?

Clinical Bottom Line

Patients who engage in mirror therapy realize greater recovery of function in their upper extremities than those who receive conventional therapy alone. This can have a positive impact on a person’s ability to perform self-care routines, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and self-feeding. Although not addressed in the research, functional recovery may also result in greater self-efficacy and more active engagement in all aspects of one’s life.

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