Phantom limb pain and mirror box Vilayamura Ramachandran

Simply amazing article found on the net. It tells of a virtually incurable mental illness as: phantom pain. What is this? Everything is simple and understandable to people who do not have arms or legs. These invisible, amputated limbs they hurt or are in zanemevshem condition. But most importantly, this article is not just tells about the disease, but also about how to get rid of it just at home!

In the series "House", a series of "Tyrant", is extraordinarily vivid scene — House heals neighbor of almost incurable disease — phantom pain — an ailment that affects 80-90 percent of amputees …

This scene was struck not only because it was both terrifying and joyous, but also because of this miracle is a very real practice — experimental, still not fully meaningful, but still quite effective.

Since in Russian is almost no intelligible articles on this subject, I was small for you to digest, mainly based on the article in the "New Yorker." I'm pretty sure that she was the source for stories with a neighbor — the article came out in the spring, this magazine is very well known and read, so that the connection is obvious to me.

Vilayamur Ramachandran, a doctor of Indian origin, is currently working in one of the University of California. He explores the many phenomena, including phantom pain, apotemnofiliyu (a rare disorder in which patients experience an uncontrollable desire to amputate his own arm or leg), the effects of a stroke, and so on. Since we are interested in phantom pain, then I will tell you it is about them.

About phantom pain (ie feeling pain, tension in the amputated limb) wrote long ago. Typically, patients complain of a terrible strain, which can not be discharged — for example, feels like a fist is compressed so that the nails digging into his palm. For some, this pain is so unbearable that people commit suicide. For nearly a hundred years, doctors believed that the cause of phantom pain is inflammation of the nerve endings (neuroma), the remaining stump in the hands or feet. Some patsenty solved by repeated amputation, more and more affected limb shortening. When that did not work, they tried to block the nerves in the spine, and even neutralize segments of the thalamus (the base of the brain that processes pain signals). Nothing worked.

Ramadcharan claims that phantom sensations are generated in the interaction of sensory and motor areas of the cortex of the brain, as well as "body map", which is located in the right section of the cortex, just above the right ear. One of the main goals of this section is to form a solid body image received from the touching ("I touch the cup with your fingers"), visual cues ("I see that as my hand touched the cup") and the signals coming from the muscles, ligaments and muscles ( "I feel like my hand reaches for the cup"). Despite the fact that people with amputees do not receive these signals, Ramadcharan believes that memories of them and stored in the brain and the nervous system. In the process of studying the histories of people who suffer from phantom pain, he noticed that many of amputation to the corresponding part of the body was immobilized (illness, plaster, bandage). As a result, a vicious circle — in response to continuous impulses that come from the brain to the limbs, the body gets a visual and tactile proof that the arm or leg can not move. After the amputation, the patient in mind, a new "map of the body," in which the "prescribed" a sense of paralysis and pain in the limbs are amputated. According to Ramachandran, all you have to do — is to "trick" the brain, showing him that the arm or leg is still in place and it can move.

His first patient was a young man caught once in an accident, leaving his left arm was paralyzed. Within a year he went to the cross belt, and then agreed to amputation. Since then, it had the feeling as if a hand has become numb, in a difficult position. Ramachandran has established an ordinary mirror, so that it is aligned vertically and perpendicular to the body of a young man. He asked to put his good hand on the same side of the mirror, and the stump — on the other. The patient looked at the reflection of his good hand — so he had the illusion that the hand — in fact, a continuation of his amputated limb. Ramachandran then asked the man to move his hands simultaneously — up and down, keeping his eyes on the mirror. "Oh, God! — Exclaimed the patient, — Oh, God, doctor, this can not be! "For the first time in ten years, the patient felt that his phantom arm" moves "and the pain finally receded. Thereafter, the patient was subjected to during the month of mirror therapy for 10 minutes a day and gradually his phantom arm was gone, and with it disappeared, and phantom pain. "For the first time — later wrote Ramachandran — we can talk about the successful amputation of a phantom limb."

Ramachandran has conducted an experiment on eight patients and all but one of unclenching his fists, cracked down on the muscle phantom hands. Subsequently, the experiment was repeated by an independent group of researchers in England since the technique of "mirror therapy" aroused skepticism and rejection of doctors. Of the 18 people who suffer from phantom pains, six were mirror therapy, and the other — the other methods (closed mirror and visualization). As a result, in the control group, only three of the patients was slightly better, while in all other pain increased. In six patients who underwent mirror therapy, the pain was gone for good.

Now back to the "House". According to the veteran, he suffers phantom pains for many years — and, as in real patients, it hurts feeling pressurized to cramp fist. House, as expected, radically acts — attacks him, binds and forces thrust his hands in a box.

This is the same "mirror box" that came up Ramachandran, it is widely used in mirror therapy. Veteran pokes hand, sees in the place of his stump whole hand. "And now — let go, unclench the fist" — says House.

And the pain, stress, tormented man many years away. According to studies, the effect of mirror therapy may be immediate, but it is recommended to repeat these sessions several times, so that the pain had disappeared completely. Ramachandran himself says that in his practice, one-third of patients completely got rid of the pain. However, he warns that if the amputation occurred ten or more years ago, the treatment may not work.

And yet, my opinion — I do not think so fast relief is possible when people so scared and shocked as bonded patient House.


 I am very sorry that this article I found 6-7 months ago. Lost a friend of mine … Maybe the reason was in this same way, and I could help … I hope that this information will save someone else from the horror of constant pain.
Ilya, We remember you.


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