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Mirrors Help Stroke Victims Recover

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Japanese researcher uses a mirror to help speed up recovery from stroke…

A Japanese researcher has discovered that using a mirror to create the illusion that a person’s paralyzed limb moves in tandem with the healthy one, appears to speed up the recovery from stroke.

The findings show that the optical illusion is more effective in treating stroke victims than previous methods, suggesting that the mind plays a powerful role in the body’s recovery.

mirror therapy Mirrors Help Stroke Victims Recover

Kazu Amimoto of Tokyo Metropolitan University told the World Stroke Conference in Vienna:

“The mental aspect of rehabilitation, has far greater importance than previously understood and should be paid far more attention,”

Hemiplegia, a condition in which one half of a person’s body is paralyzed, is one of the most common long-term consequences of stroke and one of the biggest challenges for rehabilitation.

Conventional therapy seeks to restore mobility by stimulating the paralyzed limbs through physical exercise and physiotherapy.

In the new therapy, researchers placed a mirror in the middle of the person’s body so that movements from the healthy limbs were seen by the eye on both sides. This optical illusion has a far greater effect stimulating the brain and improving motor function in the paralyzed part of the body.

The researchers compared the treatments by measuring the angle at which the foot joint could bend and the time it took people to perform a task with the paralyzed lower limb.

In the study of 14 stroke patients, researchers found that direct treatment brought a 0.9 degree improvement in the angle of bending and no acceleration of movement while the mirror trick resulted in acceleration in movement of more than 12 percent, Amimoto said.

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