Virtual Reality Mirror Therapy for Those With Acquired Brain Injury: A Clinical Pilot Study


The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of virtual reality based mirror therapy (VMT) on individuals with acquired brain injury when compared to a control group receiving traditional mirror therapy (TMT). This is a randomized controlled pilot study in which patients with hemiplegia will be assigned to VMT or TMT and the impact on upper extremity function will be observed.

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Double (Care Provider, Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: June 2019

Detailed Description

The investigators are currently running a mirror therapy pilot project in the Hamilton Health Sciences Rehabilitation Program. Mirror therapy has been successfully used with people that have injuries such as strokes or other types of brain injuries that affect movement on one side of their body. Mirror therapy involves placing a mirror over the affected limb and angling it to reflect the unaffected limb. This creates a visual illusion that moving the unaffected limb also results in movement in the affected limb. This is theorized to aid recovery of the motor system in the brain. Virtual Reality (VR) can also be used with people with strokes and brain injuries and many studies of VR have shown positive results. In this study, the investigators will combine VR and mirror therapy. The investigators have designed a special new system that uses VR headset to make it appear that both limbs are moving when only the unaffected limb is moving. The investigators are going to do this by having people complete virtual tasks wearing this specially programmed headset. The tasks are everyday activities that a person might perform using two hands. Ultimately, the investigators hope to determine whether there is any difference between VR mirror therapy and regular mirror therapy in improving upper limb function.


  • Device: Virtual Reality Mirror Therapy
    • Virtual Reality Mirror Therapy system using occulus rift as virtual headset and kinect as motion tracking sensor.
  • Procedure: Traditional Mirror Therapy
    • Traditional Mirror Therapy system consisting of a mirror in which patients view their healthy limb over the affected to trick brain during dual motion tasks. This therapy has been shown to improve upper extremity function in patients with acquired brain injury.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: Experimental Group
    • Patients receiving Virtual Reality Mirror Therapy
  • Experimental: Control Group
    • Patients receiving Traditional Mirror Therapy

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Upper Extremity Function
    • Time Frame: 6-weeks
    • To measure subjects upper extremity function via assessment scores pre and post treatment.

Secondary Measures

  • Upper Extremity Range of Motion
    • Time Frame: 6-weeks
    • Arm position data recorded through the VR systems measured in millimeters.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • diagnosis of stroke or brain injury, including ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes, confirmed by radio logical evidence and evidence suggesting injury primarily to one side and exhibited by hemiplegia
  • their post injury time is between 2 weeks and 2 years
  • patients are between the age of 16 and 65 years old

Exclusion Criteria

  • greater than stage 4 on the CMSA
  • behavioral impairments that may prevent safe or consistent participation

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 16 Years

Maximum Age: 65 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • University of Guelph
  • Collaborator
    • Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Laura MacNeil, Masters Student – University of Guelph
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Hussein Abdullah, PhD, Principal Investigator, University of Guelph
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Denise Johnson, BHSc(PT), (905)521-2100,

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