Send to

Choose Destination
Rofo. 2011 Nov;183(11):1051-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1281768. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Mirror therapy in lower limb amputees--a look beyond primary motor cortex reorganization.

Author information

Department of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.



Phantom pain in upper limb amputees is associated with the extent of reorganization in the primary sensorimotor cortex. Mirror visual feedback therapy has been shown to improve phantom pain. We investigated the extent of cortical reorganization in lower limb amputees and changes in neural activity induced by mirror therapy.


Eight lower limb amputees underwent 12 sessions of MVFT and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain before the first and after the last MVFT session. FMRI sessions consisted of two runs in which subjects were instructed to perform repetitive movement of the healthy and phantom ankle.


Before MVFT, the mean phantom pain intensity was 4.6 ± 3.1 on a visual analog scale and decreased to 1.8 ± 1.7 (p = 0.04). We did not observe a consistent pattern of cortical activation in primary sensorimotor areas during phantom limb movements. Following MVFT, increased activity was obtained in the right orbitofrontal cortex during phantom ankle movements. Comparison of cortical activity during movements of the phantom ankle and the intact ankle showed significantly higher activity in the left inferior frontal cortex (pars triangularis).


These results question the known association between phantom pain and primary sensorimotor reorganization and propose reorganizational changes involving multiple cortical areas in lower limb amputees. Finally, reduction of phantom pain after mirror visual feedback therapy was associated with increased prefrontal cortical activity during phantom ankle movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart, New York
Loading ...
Support Center