It is a well known medical fact that many amputees feel pain in their lost limb. Medical scientists say that the reason for this pain is that the part of the brain responsible for controlling the lost limb becomes inactive. This results in the condition that is called as the Phantom Limb Pain (PLP). Many different therapy technique have been tried to treat this psychological condition, but mostly with little success. These treatments include simulating the sensory feedback from a prosthetic limb and a technique called mirror therapy. Mirror therapy can only be used for patients having one sided limb amputation.
The most recent scientific advances by researchers at Chalmer’s Univeristy Of Technology, Sweden involve the treatment of PLP using augmented reality and video gaming. The Researchers use a pattern recognition algorithm to interpret the myoelectric signals from the muscles of the amputated limb. The algorithm judges the intended limb movement by the signal coming to the muscle. This information cane then be used to move a virtual limb. Hence, this movement of virtual limb by the patient in turn stimulates the part of the brain which was originally used to control the amputated limb. In the second treatment, the researchers used the myoelectric signals to make the patient play a video game using the lost limb. The results have been quite encouraging, as the case study done on a patient suffering from chronic PLP for the last 48 years, has shown that the PLP symptoms can almost be reduced to zero level.
The researchers point out that although these treatments have been applied on a single patient only. In future, they intend to test them on many different patients to check its efficacy and robustness.
A truly remarkable achievement by the scientists at the chalmers, we wish them all the best for their future advances and wish that this research produces a hope for millions of amputees around the world, specially in the war zone. Do you personally know any patient suffering from PLP?