Mirror therapy boon for patients suffering from unilateral neglect

  • Harshraj Singh, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 22, 2013 21:20 IST

A recent study conducted by Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, has revealed that mirror therapy is proving beneficial for patients suffering from unilateral neglect after stroke.  Unilateral neglect is a symptom of brain damage in which a person is unaware of one side of his body and of anything in the external world on the same side.  

Total 30 stroke patients, who had unilateral neglect due to parietal lobe (a part of the brain) lesion, indicated early improvement with the help of mirror therapy.

MUST- Mirror therapy in unilateral neglect after stroke-is a study conducted by a team of doctors under the guidance of Dr Jeyaraj D Pandian, head at neurology department, CMCH. The study found that patients were being benefited by the mirror therapy.

Two groups, 30 patients in each group, were studied in the past two years at CMCH.

Stroke physiotherapist Dr Deepika Sharma, who conducted the study with her team, said: "In the first group, who were suffering from unilateral neglect after stroke. Mirror therapy was conducted for five days in a week on patients for 30 minutes every day for a month. We also conducted limb activities of these patients and they have shown much improvement as compared to the second group patients, who were only doing limb activities."

"We started the study in 2011 and studied mirror therapy on 30 patients. All 60 patients suffering from unilateral neglect were unable to feel their other side of the body," she added.

According to doctors, the unilateral neglect patients generally eat food from only one side of the plate and are unable to feel any response on the affected side of the body due to stroke. They feel that they have only one side of the body.

Dr Jeyaraj D Pandian, who is the principal investigator of 'MUST' study, said: "The study found that patients, showed much improvements after getting the mirror therapy. Their eyesight was fine, but they could not guess about any response on the affected side of the body. In lack of any proper medicines available to cure the problem, the mirror therapy showed positive response."

Dr Sharma further said that the limbs on the affected side started responding after mirror therapy in a month and their limbs on the affected side also started functioning.

She added that the patients now ate complete food from their plate and were able to walk as well.
How mirror therapy works?
If a patient has left-side neglect, then the left arm of a patient is kept in a mirror box where the patient is not able to see his left arm. The therapist then asks him to move his right arm. When the right arm gets reflected in the mirror, the patient is made to realise that he has a left arm as well, which is also moving in the mirror.

"When a patient sees again and again that the hand of the affected side is moving in the mirror, a message goes to the brain which forces the patient to think about it and in this way we get help to treat these patients," Dr Sharma said.


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