Mirror therapy for severe hemiparesis in the acute phase of stroke recovery: A pilot study utilizing a brief interventional protocol
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The debilitating effects of strokes continue to be a public health concern. Hemiparesis of the upper extremity (UE) associated with this condition is a disabling long-term result that continues to be a rehabilitation focus for occupational therapy (OT) practitioners. Mirror therapy (MT) is an emerging method used by therapists to address UE hemiparesis. Despite its expanded use, much is still not known about MT, including when in the rehabilitation process it is best to use and what methods will result in a beneficial outcome. This pilot study investigated the effect of a brief (2 week in duration) MT protocol for improving severe hemiparesis, as compared to a control protocol of UE bilateral exercise. Recruitment of participants from an acute population of stroke survivors in an inpatient rehabilitation setting (n=3) was not sufficient to complete the planned statistical comparison. However, information about protocol design was gleaned from this study's results, which could prove valuable for future studies. From this information, an alternative protocol was developed and is provided to advance research into the use of MT as an intervention in acute inpatient stroke rehabilitation. The proposed MT protocol utilizes a task-based approach well suited to the profession of OT.