Virtual Reality and Fantom Limb Pain

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Virtual Reality and Fantom Limb Pain

Imagine that you have no arm or leg … and it still hurts. You fill it like a constant contraction. It hurts, but it is not there. We call it the phantom pain. It occurs after amputation.

 

Many amputation are planned in advance as they are related to the disease of the patient. For example, cancer. While this may seem odd, the treatment of phantom pain begins before the surgery. It requires the involvement of a psychiatrist and therapist. Of course, there are also painkillers.  That is because the real phantom pain, which is one that persists for a long time (not only for a short time after amputation), is cumbersome and often difficult to bear.

 

Pain makes life quality significantly deteriorated and patients often have sleep disorders. They are irritable and anxious. Of course, the problem lies not in the limb, but in the brain, which can not cope with the lack of a part of the body. It is not something unusual. Statistics show that 70 percent of people who have undergone amputation still feel phantom pain.

 

In this case, virtual reality introduces revolutionary changes too. Thanks to VR technology we get an improved version of mirror therapy. Mirror therapy involves placing the affected limb in the mirror box, and the  healthy up against it. In this way, the patient can see that both limbs are healthy. Although he knows that is not true, the brain registers it in a different way and thus is able to influence the perception of pain at the place of the absent limb.

 

An  experiment with a person who had lost his arm in an accident 50 year ago was conducted  at Gothenburg’s Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.. Using electrical impulses generated by muscle contraction, scientists managed to create a virtual body that reacts to intentional movements by the patient participating in the experiment. In other words, it does the expected movement of (absent) limbs based on electrical impulses that appear in other parts of the body. This is particularly important for patients who do not have a pair of limbs and therapy mirror is not possible.

 

With regular use of the application, in which he saw and moved his hands (while driving), he was able to relieve pain in his phantom limb significantly.

 

https://youtu.be/0wp-SigTeLs

 

It turns out that in many research centers scientists carry out important and groundbreaking research on the use of virtual reality in the medical industry. That is why I say that It is good to stay informed.

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