Objectives: A novel method of rehabilitation for ideomotor apraxia (IMA), using a modified version of the mirror box (MB), is proposed. The rationale is based on the theory that disrupted body representation occurs in IMA and that MB training may improve body representation. In the present MB training, patients observed and reproduced movements made by the experimenter in a mirror. The visual perspective gave the illusory sensation of seeing one's own affected hand in the mirror. Methods: Thirteen patients were included in the study; apraxia was measured four times: i) at baseline; ii) after a week of unspecific poststroke rehabilitation (rest); iii) after a week of imitation training for apraxia, used as a control; and iv) after a week of MB training. Imitation and mirror box training were presented in counterbalanced order between participants. The effect of the mirror box on a measure of body representation was also assessed. Results: The results show that MB training improved apraxia when compared to the outcomes in both the imitation and rest conditions. The improvement correlates with the impact of the mirror box on the body representation (i.e., the degree of embodiment). Conclusions: MB training shows promising effects in promoting recovery from apraxia. The hypothesis is that the mirror box triggers a quickly generated sense of embodiment of the reflected moving arm into the observer's body representation. This embodiment of the visuomotor features of the observed movements would positively affect motor programming, promoting motor improvement. Crucially, this effect seems to extend to actions performed outside the mirror box setup, enhancing patients' performance on an apraxia test.
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