Content » Vol 50, Issue 1

Review article

Mirror therapy for motor function of the upper extremity in patients with stroke: A meta-analysis

Wen Zeng, Yonghong Guo, Guofeng Wu, Xueyan Liu, Qian Fang
Postgraduate College, Guizhou Medical University, 550025 Guiyang, China

DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2287


Objective: To evaluate the mean treatment effect of mirror therapy on motor function of the upper extremity in patients with stroke.
Data sources: Electronic databases, including the Cochrane Library, PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase and CNKSystematic, were searched for relevant studies published in English between 1 January 2007 and 22 June 2017.
Study selection: Randomized controlled trials and pilot randomized controlled trials that compared mirror therapy/mirror box therapy with other rehabilitation approaches were selected.
Data extraction: Two authors independently evaluated the searched studies based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria and appraised the quality of included studies according to the criteria of the updated version 5.1.0 of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Review of Interventions.
Data synthesis: Eleven trials, with a total of 347 patients, were included in the meta-analysis. A moderate effect of mirror therapy (standardized mean difference 0.51, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.29, 0.73) on motor function of the upper extremity was found. However, a high degree of heterogeneity (χ2 = 25.65, p = 0.004; I2 = 61%) was observed. The heterogeneity decreased a great deal (χ2 = 6.26, p = 0.62; I2 = 0%) after 2 trials were excluded though sensitivity analysis.
Conclusion: Although the included studies had high heterogeneity, meta-analysis provided some evidence that mirror therapy may significantly improve motor function of the upper limb in patients with stroke. Further well-designed studies are needed.

Lay Abstract

It is labor-intensive and costly to perform a standard multi-disciplinary rehabilitation program to recover motor function of the upper extremity in patients with stroke. However, previous reports suggested that stroke survivors could benefit in a simple rehabilitation program in which a mirror was used as a rehabilitation tool. This study systematically searched and synthesized 11 trials, which included 347 patients with stroke, published over the past 10 years. The statistical data showed that mirror therapy could significantly improve the motor function of the upper limb in patients with stroke.


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