Mirror Box Therapy was first documented for the treatment of phantom pain in 1996. Patients are placed in front of a mirror in such a way as to be able to perceive themselves as able bodied. They are then asked to observe the reflected limb, while being asked to engage in bilateral movements (see picture). The visual feedback ‘fools’ the brain into engaging neuroplastically with the missing limb, and thus treat the pain. The same treatment can be used to rehabilitate stroke victims.
In the more than quarter century since then, research has been done on different variations of this treatment. The theory hypothesises that visual feedback is a particularly strong experiential mode and can override other sensory modalities. The brain prioritises visual feedback over proprioceptive or sensory feedback.
(Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/OwR9cyMNe4c)
There is also some theory that implicates our brains mirror neurons in the generation of brain activity in watching external movements.
There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of mirror boxes in this regard. It is a useful non pharmacological and non-invasive treatment for both stroke and chronic pain, the theory can also be extended to other problem areas.
Neurotechnology has developed the Tranceducer™ our virtual reality (VR) mirror box, It is in fact a mixed reality environment as it engages both visual and tactile experiences. The advantage of the VR environment is that its flexibility allows us to engage in pain that is not located in a bilateral injured limb such as back pain or visceral pain or CRPS. The VR environment also allows us to manipulate and vary the experience in a myriad of other therapeutic ways.
We have been able to successfully treat a number patients with various presentations with our treatment model. If you have patients with treatment resistant pain. They may benefit from a brief free assessment from us.