Phantom Limb Research Paper

789 Words 4 Pages
Undergoing an amputation generates sufficient trauma in and of itself, adding to the shock is the experience of excruciating pain caused by a limb or other body part that is no longer attached to the body, this disturbance can prove to be not only exasperating but extraordinarily frightening as well. This strange phenomenon, of experiencing a limb that has been removed from the body, is referred to as a “phantom limb.” Around “90 percent of amputees worldwide” have experienced these puzzling sensations. Interestingly, at times, the limb is sensed as having mobility and at others is sensed to be paralyzed. Amputees have conveyed they are subjected to a “tingling sensation,” that pervades the entirety of the limb that is missing, giving a …show more content…
Historically, “phantom limbs” have been reported as early as the fourth century, with continued accounts being described repeatedly throughout ensuing years. War produces a high number of amputees which have been documented and studied. Notably, “70 percent of amputee patients, immediately after surgery” have conveyed accounts of pain being felt in the missing limb, this pain is sometimes experienced for years after the amputation has taken place. In attempts to find the cause of these peculiar sensations, researchers detached “sensory neurons from the spinal cord,” and in some cases eradicated portions of the brain associated with receiving feedback from these neurons, all to no avail, as the amputee still reported sensations from their severed limbs. New theories emerged, implicating the brain as the source of “phantom limb” sensation, siting the brain’s construction of, “neural signatures,” that allows the brain to generate a map of the body within the mind. The group of neurons that make up the, “neural signature” is denoted as the, “neuromatrix.” Furthermore, the “neuromatrix,” is located in the portion of the brain responsible for conveying “body …show more content…
One study employed the use of mirrors to assist amputees in visualizing their missing limb and wield control over it via the “neuromatrix.” It was found that in some of the patients who participated in this study experienced the ability to feel and move their “phantom limb,” thus alleviating the pain associated with the missing appendage, through the implementation of these visual methods. These findings link the visual activities of an individual to the ability to influence change of the “neuromatrix.” The use of “virtual reality simulators” have produced similar effects in amputee patients as that of “mirror therapy.” However, “virtual reality simulators,” have the ability to produce a much more realistic scenario of the patient and the awareness of his whole person including that of the missing limb. Alleviation of pain in “ghostly appendages” have been recorded in virtual therapies as well; these findings may be attributed to the brain’s reassigning neurons of missing limbs to various differing regions of the body. Perhaps, the extensive research that has been done can be used to reassure and aid those suffering from “ghostly limbs,” that measures can be taken to assist in removing the pain and fear from their already tragic

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