gms | German Medical Science

64th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

26 - 29 May 2013, Düsseldorf

The effect of mirror therapy on hemispatial neglect

Meeting Abstract

  • Volker Völzke - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen; Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Anke Turek - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen
  • Winfried Mandrella - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen
  • Axel Petershofer - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen
  • Carla Breitkopf - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen
  • Larissa Wischnjak - HELIOS Klinik Holthausen

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 64. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC). Düsseldorf, 26.-29.05.2013. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2013. DocMO.15.11

doi: 10.3205/13dgnc136, urn:nbn:de:0183-13dgnc1360

Published: May 21, 2013

© 2013 Völzke et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Spatial neglect is a common syndrome following unilateral brain damage. Affected patients fail to detect, attend to and react to stimuli on the contralateral side of the lesion. In contrast, stimulus processing on the ipsilateral side of the lesion is comparatively intact. In most cases, the neglect syndrome is caused by a right hemisphere lesion (e.g. malignant stroke with craniectomy; ICH). The mirror therapy is well established in the therapy of phantom limbs and associated pain. But just a few clinical data are published about the effectiveness of this therapy with multimodal neglect patients. We want to add a innovative control group study.

Method: A total of 25 participants (age range from 45 to 86; 12 men; M = 64.9; SD = 12.17 and 12 women, M = 64.8; SD = 12.9) participated in the current mirror therapy vs. optokinetic stimulation therapy study. All patients suffered from left unilateral neglect after a right hemisphere damage. Participants had to fulfil a medium level of resilience in order to be able to participate in a therapy session for at least 15 minutes. If patients fell below the Behavioural Inattention Test (BIT) cut-off score of 128, they were permitted for the study. In total, 14 - 16 sessions were executed for each patient. Before and after the intervention period, patients of both groups conducted the same test battery. Subsequently, the experimental group received 8 mirror therapy sessions, while the comparison group received the same amount of optokinetic therapy intervention sessions.

Results: All analyses were computed using SPSS 17. Paired sample t-tests were performed to compare the scores of the neuropsychological and neurological diagnostic tools in the pre-diagnostic and post-diagnostic condition. The comparison of pre- and post measures of the BIT total score showed high significant differences (p <. 004) in the mirror therapy group. Similar significant results were found in different other neglect (e.g. table test; BIT subtests) or attention tasks (e.g. reaction time). The comparison of both interventions (analysis of variance) showed no significant differences between this two intervention methods.

Conclusions: The well known optokinetic stimulation neglect therapy and the innovative mirror therapy are both highly effective treatments of multimodal neglect syndrome. In former studies we have to add assessments of pain reduction and quality of life questionnaires in this important clinical patient group.