ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Reflecting on - MIRROR THERAPY

Updated on April 21, 2013

Mirror therapy is a non invasive, drug free therapy which is reported to have up to a 95% improvement rate for its users. It has no side effects and is easy to use.

The therapy consists of visual feedback, using a mirror box. The user sits in front of a box with two openings and opposite facing mirrors in the centre. There are many different styles of box on the market with prices ranging from £20 to £100. An ordinary mirror can also be used.

What conditions can Mirror Therapy be used for?


  • Phantom Limb Pain
  • Paralysis or Muscle Weakness following a Stroke
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Arthritis

What is a Phantom Limb?

A phantom limb is a nonexistent limb. It is a limb that after amputation feels as though it is still attached in its proper place and moves along with other parts of the body. Sometimes the ‘limb’ has sensations – often pain but also itching, twitching, sensations of cold or heat, tingling or even gesturing and trying to pick up items in the case of a hand. A phantom limb can feel shorter than the original or twisted at a strange angle which can give rise to pain.

Phantom Pain and Sensation

Phantom pain can arise in people who were born without limbs as well as in limbs that are paralysed through stroke or injury. Often following a mastectomy (removal of the breast) the patient feels the original breast is still present and gets nipple sensation though the nipple was removed along with the breast. This can happen with removal of internal organs too, such as the spleen or appendix. However; sensations in these organs cannot be dealt with by mirror therapy so we will only be discussing the conditions that can.

What are the reasons for Phantom Limb Pain or PLP?

  • Once believed to be purely psychological, phantom pain is still being researched, as scientists now know that to be untrue. A definitive reason has still not been reached but there are a number of theories as to its causes.
  • One of these is scar tissue called a traumatic neuroma which forms at the site of the amputation.
  • It is also thought that the brain and spinal cord may be the originating areas for the pain. Brain scans show that the parts of the brain which were previously connected to the amputated limb are activated when the person feels phantom pain.
  • In studies it has also been discovered that the brain remaps it’s circuitry from the amputated limb to another part of the body so that when that part is touched the pain or stimulus is felt in the nonexistent part as well.
  • If a limb was painful before its amputation this increases the likelihood of phantom pain after the removal of it because the brain remembers the pain.
  • Blood clots which were the cause of the amputation seem to increase the likelihood of PLP too.


What is a Stroke?

This may seem to be a patronising question but often people confuse a stroke with a heart attack. An easy way to describe a stroke is to call it a brain attack. There are two types of Stroke, the most common one being an Ischaemic stroke where the artery is blocked by a blood clot, effectively cutting off the blood supply to the brain. The heart can be a factor in a stroke if it isn’t beating properly because this can cause blood clots to form and if those clots find their way to a brain artery could cause a stroke. The other type of stroke is a haemorrhagic stroke which is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

In which part of the brain the attack happens determines what the effects of the stroke will be. If the blockage is in the back part of the brain it is likely that some degree of visual disability will be experienced. If the right side of the brain is affected the right side of the face will most likely be weakened and the left side of the body. There could be loss of memory, vision could be impaired and behaviour could change to a rapid inquisitorial style. If the stroke occurs on the left side of the brain the right side of the body will be affected and there could be loss of memory, a change in behavioural style to a cautious slow one. Also there could be paralysis of the right side of the body and the left side of the face and speech and/or language disturbance. If the blockage occurs in the brain stem, both sides of the body will be affected and the patient can be left in a locked-in state.

Source

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

CRPS as it is abbreviated to, is a persistent burning pain with swelling and discolouration in a limb. The areas most often affected are the feet, knees, wrists, ankles, hands or sometimes the whole of the limb.

What are the Causes of CRPS?

Again a definitive cause has not yet been discovered but it sometimes follows surgery; which leads experts to believe that it could be due to damaged nerves. Other theories are that it could be inflammation or faulty pain signals in the brain.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a complex condition consisting of five different types of musculoskeletal condition. It is indicated by swelling, stiffness and pain that does not follow an injury and lasts longer than a week. Fever is often present and everyday tasks become difficult or impossible. The pain does not respond to keeping moving, pain killers or heat.

What are the Causes of Arthritis?

In some cases arthritis is hereditary. Old injuries or repetitive and physically demanding work can cause arthritis. Allergy or infection can cause transient arthritis which comes and goes.

How can Mirror Therapy Help?

This therapy was originally called Mirror Visual Feedback and was devised by Professor Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran solely for the purpose of helping patients with amputated limbs who believed the phantom limb was stuck in an uncomfortable position and was causing pain. It can help by convincing the brain that the missing, painful, weak or paralysed limb is moving. As the person is watching the ‘phantom’ partmoving, the brain is creating new pathways and connections – pain free ones.

How do I use it?

You can either buy a mirror box or use an ordinary mirror of an appropriate size for the limb or body part. If it is your leg that is affected one on a stand may be better. You should be able to see the whole of your limb in it. The affected limb is placed either behind the mirror out of sight or in the box. Your corresponding good limb is then moved in front of the mirror so that it looks as if the absent, paralysed or weak limb is moving. This only works if you cannot see the limb behind the mirror; it is best if you do not look at it. Do this therapy as often as you wish for as long as you wish; there are no side effects.

© Susan Bailey 2013 All Rights Reserved

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Sue Bailey profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Bailey 

      5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Thanks Peter. I hope it is useful to you.

    • Sue Bailey profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Bailey 

      5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Thanks Rajan. Glad you enjoyed it. It is an interesting concept and one I really enjoyed writing about. Thanks for the up vote.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Sue

      An interesting concept and not one I have come across before. Thank you for raising it and writing so comprehensively. I will certainly look at this further and perhaps try it.

      Kind regards Peter

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Sue, this is something I've not heard of. A very interesting read. Voted up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)