Mirror therapy in the rehabilitation of lower-limb amputation: Are there any contraindications?

Roberto Casale, Carlo Damiani, Venessa Rosati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Mirror box therapy and its development (immersive virtual reality) is used in pain therapy and in rehabilitation of people with amputation affected by phantom limb-related phenomena. It allows patients to view a reflection of their anatomical limb in the visual space occupied by their phantom limb. There are only limited reports of its possible side effects. DESIGN: We retrospectively reviewed the existence of side effects or adverse reactions in a group of 33 nonselected patients with phantom limb-related phenomena. RESULTS: Nineteen reported confusion and dizziness, 6 reported a not clearly specified sensation of irritation, and 4 refused to continue the treatment. Only 4 of the 33 patients did not have any complaints. CONCLUSIONS: Possible reasons for this large number of side effects could be the lack of selection of patients and the fact that the mirror box therapy was paralleled by a conventional rehabilitation approach targeted to the use of a prosthesis. Warnings on the need to select patients, with regard to their psychologic as well as clinical profile (including time from amputation and clinical setting), and possible conflicting mechanisms between mirror box therapy and conventional therapies are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-842
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Mirror therapy
  • Phantom limb-related phenomena
  • Side effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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