Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Phantom Limbs

Phantom limbs are a phenomena in which a person loses an appendage, however claims to still feel sensation. These sensations could range from cramps, a shooting, piercing, or stabbing pain, numbness and even pleasure. Some of the things that may contribute to this phenomena are things like extreme pain or infection prior to amputation, presence of blood clots in the amputated limb, traumatic amputation such as from being a veteran, and the type of anesthesia used during the removal of limb. Although this is only a perception by the amputee, they still feel it is very real. It can also be explained by the body's map in our brains. For instance, say an amputee complains that their amputated arm is in pain. How is this possible? Aren't the corresponding neurons inactive? The answer is yes. But this still remains possible because in our brain's map of the body, the arm neurons and the face neurons are very close, therefore whenever the face may be touched, it corresponds to the neurons close to where the arm neurons used to be active and now they have move into that region. However, there is treatment that the patients can undergo to come to terms with the fact that the amputated limb is gone. The treatment in itself is another amazing phenomena that illustrates the way our brain has neuroplasticity, meaning with exercise, the brain can fix itself. One treatment is called mirror therapy, in which a patient is allowed to feel the imaginary movement of the removed body part behaving as normal body movement through a mirror. Mirror therapy was discovered by Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran in 1996.


This is a video by Ramachandran


  1. This is very good article relates to my article on new gadgets for prostatic limbs I posted after this one. Check it out! Interesting neuroscientific view point on brain in this. Interesting!