Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Phantom Limb Syndrome (Amanda Stallard)

Phantom limb syndrome occurs in amputee patients who experience the sensation that the missing limb is still present.  Phantom limb syndrome occurs because the brain is still receiving messages from the nerves that previously carried out the impulses of the missing limb before it was amputated.  Phantom limb syndrome occurs in about 60 to 80 percent of amputee patients and many report severe pain within the missing limb.

Many scientists, doctors, and psychologists have studied this syndrome and have found various forms of treatment.  A neuroscientist by the name of Vilayanur S. Ramachandran developed an unconventional technique called mirror box therapy.  When a patient receives mirror box therapy they are given a mirrored box with two hole openings for the limbs.  The patient places the attached limb inside one opening of the box and then the phantom limb is inserted inside the other opening in the box.  The image of the attached limb is projected onto the phantom limb giving it the appearance that it is a normal functioning limb.  The sensory feedback from the projected image to the brain helps patients who suffer from this syndrome to manage pain or mental anguish from the loss of a limb.
Mirror Box

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