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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Mirror Therapy

Mirror Therapy Header


Seldom discussed at multiple sclerosis websites are therapies that are less commonly used for people with MS.
In many ways multiple sclerosis and stroke have things in common.  People afflicted by stroke can have memory dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, motor and muscular dysfunctions, sleeping problems and more.  Sound familiar?  Because stroke also damages neurons in the brain symptoms and thus therapies can be mutually applicable and thus helpful to multiple sclerosis patients.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting movement, sensations, bodily functions and more. It is caused by destruction of the myelin insulation covering nerve fibers (neurons) in the central nervous system(brain and spinal cord). When the myelin is destroyed, nerve messages are sent more slowly and less efficiently. Patches of scar tissue, called plaques or lesions form over the affected areas, further disrupting nerve communication. Symptoms of MS occur when the brain and spinal cord nerves no longer communicate properly with other parts of the body. MS causes a wide variety of symptoms and can affect vision,balance,strength,sensation, coordination,and bodily functions. MS rates are higher in the United States, Canada, and Northern Europe than in other parts of the world. Over 2.4 million people suffer from multiple sclerosis globally.
Mirror therapy is one of the tools used in stroke patients.  While exactly why mirror therapy appears to help people at a clinical level is still somewhat a mystery.  There is a train of thought however that neurons may somewhat mirror one another.  For example, lets say we are having weakness in our left arm, burning sensation or pain.  Yet our right arm is experiencing none of these symptoms.  By visually seeing the right arm make movements that are a mirror image to the eye that the left arm is also engaged in the movement neurons in the brain are essentially trained out of a behavior or retrained into a behavior.
In people who have a limb amputated mirror therapy has been used for to reduce and in many cases remove “Phantom Limb” sensations such as pain, itch and more.

What is a Mirror Box?

Hand Mirror BoxSimply put a mirror box allows for one limb to be hidden inside the box whilst the other limb is visible on the outside of the box.  On the outside of the box is a square mirror that stands upright at a 90 degree angle.  Thus if a person has their left arm outside the mirror box and the right arm within the mirror box the right arm is not visible to their eyes.  Yet when they look in the mirror they will see an image that is a mirror of their left arm.  To the vision and brain, the image in the mirror appear to be the right arm.

How to use a Mirror Box:

It is important and preferable to use a mirror box with a trained physical or occupational therapist familiar with the technique.
But should a person decide to not work with a health care professional do make sure another person is there to verbally guide and also for physical support purposes.

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