Virtual Arm Found Effective in Managing Phantom Limb Pain (VIDEO)
By Roshni Mahesh | February 27, 2014 1:27 AM EST
Scientists in Sweden have developed an effective treatment for phantom limb pain (PLP), a medical disorder that makes a person feel pain in the amputated limb area.
Chalmers University of Technol
Scientists in Sweden have developed an effective treatment for phantom limb pain (PLP), a medical disorder that makes a person feel pain in the amputated limb area. (Chalmers University of Technology)
Though phantom limb pain is a common difficulty experienced after one loses his/her arm or leg, it can also happen after the removal of other body parts like eye, tongue, breast or penis. Health experts say that it is not a psychological problem as the sensations originally stem from brain and spinal cord. This is because the nerve endings on the amputated area continue sending pain signals to the brain, giving it a feeling that the limb has not been removed but is still in its original position.
Apart from severe pain, the condition also gives a feeling of cramping, tingling, heat and cold in the area. Though various methods, including medication, mirror therapy, acupuncture and hypnosis, are available to treat phantom limb pain, nothing has been effective.
The new technique works on a virtual arm, created with the help of an augmented reality, and thus tricking the brain and making it believe that the amputated part exists. Interestingly, the superimposed virtual arm can be entirely controlled by the patient's own brain.
"There are several features of this system which combined might be the cause of pain relief" Max Ortiz Catalan, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, who developed the method, said in a news release. "The motor areas in the brain needed for movement of the amputated arm are reactivated, and the patient obtains visual feedback that tricks the brain into believing there is an arm executing such motor commands. He experiences himself as a whole, with the amputated arm back in place."
Initial experiments, on a patient suffering from phantom limb pain for 48 years, showed that the system is highly effective in reducing pain.
The study has been reported in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.
Watch how the new technique works:
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 1: San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series - Game 2: Kansas City Royals 7, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
- NFL Thursday Recap - Denver Broncos 35, San Diego Chargers 21: Peyton Manning Has 3 TDs In Easy Win [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 3: Kansas City Royals 3, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Kate Middleton Back To Herself After Struggling With Hyperemesis Gravidarum
- Ebola Vaccine: Johnson & Johnson Confident Of Human Trials In January And Market Delivery in May Next Year
- New York Doctor Tests Positive For Ebola
- ‘Death Sentence’ For 50,000 Australians With The Refusal Of Costly Hep C Treatment
- Dead Heart Beats Again, Doctors Use It For Transplant – A World’s First For Australia
- Xiaomi Redmi 1S vs. Sharp Aquos Crystal – Specifications, Features And Price Showdown
- Verizon Motorola Droid Turbo Leaked Live Images Surfaces, Scheduled To Get Unveiled On Oct 28
- Update HTC One M7 with LG G2 with Android 4.4.2 as Sprint OTA: Fixes and Installation
- U.S. Targets Buyers of ISIS Oil, Threatens Sanctions
- ISIS Syria Airstrike Bombing Has Killed 550 People, Civilians Included
- Russia Blocking OSCE Monitoring Of Its Border With Ukraine
- Russia Shifts Blame On US For Ukraine Crisis, Putin Accuses West of 'Remaking World'