Mirror Box for Pain Management, Performance and Recovery


A fascinating way to help deal with phantom limb pain as deleveoped by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran.

I placed a coffee cup in front of John and asked him to grab it. Just as he said he was reaching
out, I yanked the cup away.
“Ow!” he yelled. “Don’t do that!”
“What’s the matter?”
“Don’t do that,” he repeated. “I had just got my fingers around the cup
handle when you pulled it. That really hurts!”
Hold on a minute. I wrench a real cup from phantom fingers and the
person yells, ouch! The fingers were illusory, but the pain was real –
indeed, so intense that I dared not repeat the experiment.
Source – V.S. Ramachandran Phantoms in the Brain

When people have lost a limb occasionally pain can be felt in the limb which is no longer there. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran created the Mirror Box which helps relieve the pain.

The Mirror Box convinces the brain the both hands are doing the same amount of work or movements.

For pain relief this can relieve the pent up pain in the phantom limb by convincing the brain that the phantom limb is moving

For performance and recovery the brain can be convinced that both limbs can do the same function and build new pathways to eventually enable this without the aid of the Mirror Box. I have heard of examples where magicians have used this box to teach them self to do sleight of hand tricks with both hands. Sensorimotor congruence is the aim to be able to do all actions equally with both sides of the body and having no preferred side dominance. For example not being right handed or left footed you will be able use both equally as well.

Achieving sensorimotor congruence would be a truly amazing act, however being able to do most things equally with both hands and feet could be a really beneficial start to sports people. I am thinking of snooker or tennis players being able to play equally with both hands or a football player being able to strike a ball equally as well with both feet. I am sure there can be even more applications for performance and recovery. I just need to think of some.

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