Traditional and augmented reality mirror therapy for patients with chronic phantom limb pain (PACT study): results of a three-group, multicentre single-blind randomized controlled trial

Andreas Rothgangel*, Susy Braun, Bjorn Winkens, Anna Beurskens, Rob Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To compare the effects of traditional mirror therapy (MT), a patient-centred teletreatment (PACT) and sensomotor exercises without a mirror on phantom limb pain (PLP). Design: Three-arm multicentre randomized controlled trial. Setting: Rehabilitation centres, hospital and private practices. Subjects: Adult patients with unilateral lower limb amputation and average PLP intensity of at least 3 on the 0-10 Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). Interventions: Subjects randomly received either four weeks of traditional MT followed by a teletreatment using augmented reality MT, traditional MT followed by self-delivered MT or sensomotor exercises of the intact limb without a mirror followed by self-delivered exercises. Main measures: Intensity, frequency and duration of PLP and patient-reported outcomes assessing limitations in daily life at baseline, 4 weeks, 10 weeks and 6 months. Results: In total, 75 patients received traditional MT (n = 25), teletreatment (n = 26) or sensomotor exercises (n = 24). Mean (SD) age was 61.1 (14.2) years and mean (SD) pain intensity was 5.7 (2.1) on the NRS. Effects of MT at four weeks on PLP were not significant. MT significantly reduced the duration of PLP at six months compared to the teletreatment (P = 0.050) and control group (P = 0.019). Subgroup analyses suggested significant effects on PLP in women, patients with telescoping and patients with a motor component in PLP. The teletreatment had no additional effects compared to self-delivered MT at 10 weeks and 6 months. Conclusion: Traditional MT over four weeks was not more effective than sensomotor exercises without a mirror in reducing PLP, although significant effects were suggested in some subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1591-1608
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Amputation
  • phantom limb
  • mirror therapy
  • augmented reality
  • telerehabilitation
  • EQ-5D-5L

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