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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2005 Mar;19(1):4-13.

The potential for utilizing the "mirror neurone system" to enhance recovery of the severely affected upper limb early after stroke: a review and hypothesis.

Author information

1
Geriatric Medicine, St George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK. v.pomeroy@sghms.ac.uk

Abstract

Recovery of upper limb movement control after stroke might be enhanced by repetitive goal-directed functional activities. Providing such activity is challenging in the presence of severe paresis. A possible new approach is based on the discovery of mirror neurons in the monkey cortical area F5, which are active both in observing and executing a movement. Indirect evidence for a comparable human "mirror neurone system" is provided by functional imaging. The primary motor cortex, the premotor cortex, other brain areas, and muscles appropriate for the action being observed are probably activated in healthy volunteers observing another's movement. These findings raise the hypothesis that observation of another's movement might train the movement execution system of stroke patients who have severe paresis to bring them to the point at which they could actively participate in rehabilitation consisting of goal-directed activities. The point of providing an observation therapy would be to facilitate the voluntary production of movement; therefore, the condition of interest would be observation with intent to imitate. However, there is as yet insufficient evidence to enable the testing of this hypothesis in stroke patients. Studies in normal subjects are needed to determine which brain sites are activated in response to observation with intent to imitate. Studies in stroke subjects are needed to determine how activation is affected after damage to different brain areas. The information from such studies should aid identification of those stroke patients who might be most likely to benefit from observation to imitate and therefore guide phase I clinical studies.

PMID:
15673838
DOI:
10.1177/1545968304274351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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