Effects of mirror therapy on walking ability, balance and lower limb motor recovery after stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Objective:To investigate the effects of mirror therapy on walking ability, balance and lower limb motor recovery in patients with stroke.Method:MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, CENTRAL, PEDro Database, CNKI, VIP, Wan Fang, ClinicalTrials.gov, Current controlled trials and Open Grey were searched for randomized controlled trials that investigated the effects of mirror therapy on lower limb function through January 2018. The primary outcomes included were walking speed, mobility and balance function. Secondary outcomes included lower limb motor recovery, spasticity and range of motion. Quality assessments were performed with the PEDro scale.Results:A total of 13 studies (n = 572) met the inclusion criteria. A meta-analysis demonstrated a significant effect of mirror therapy on walking speed (mean difference (MD) 0.1 m/s, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08 to 0.12, P < 0.00001), balance function (standard mean difference (SMD) 0.66, 95% CI: 0.43 to 0.88, P < 0.00001), lower limb motor recovery (SMD 0.83, 95% CI: 0.62 to 1.05, P < 0.00001) and passive range of motion of ankle dorsiflexion (MD 2.07°, 95% CI: 082 to 3.32, P = 0.001), without improving mobility (SMD 0.43, 95% CI: −0.12 to 0.98, P = 0.12) or spasticity of ankle muscles (MD −0.14, 95% CI: −0.43 to 0.15, P = 0.35).Conclusion:The systematic review demonstrates that the use of mirror therapy in addition to some form of rehabilitation appears promising for some areas of lower limb function, but there is not enough evidence yet to suggest when and how to approach this therapy.

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