Treating ‘phantom limb pain’ with mirror therapy

When Spc. Bryan Wagner is driving, he presses the gas pedal with his appropriate foot despite that he does not have a right foot.

" I drive with it," the 23-year-old stated, describing the prosthetic arm or leg that changed the real one he shed in Baghdad on Dec. 17, 2007, when the Humvee he was a gunner on ran over an improvisated eruptive device.

Yet Wagner, an Exeter, Calif. indigenous with a military buzz as well as the beefy build of an offending electrician, states automobile matters aren't high on his order of business. Neither is running a marathon, which he has actually somehow done, as well as snowboarding, which he still delights in.

What pets him is the "phantom discomfort" he feels in the limb he shed, a common issue amongst amputees dating back to previous wars and even turning up in literature.

In David Guterson's novel "Snow Falling on Cedars", concerning the Japanese-American encounter during as well as after World War II, the protagonist Ishmael Chambers complains of discomfort from his missing out on left arm.

As of July 1, a total of 904 solution members have undertaken amputations arising from the wars in Iraq and also Afghanistan.

Treatment aids limbs "see".

But a new strategy called "mirror photo therapy" is using the representation of the undamaged limb to fool Wagner's brain-in a good way.

Using black shorts as well as sweating though a tan cut-off Tees, Wagner demonstrated the method Thursday at a physical treatment hub for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dr. Jack Tsao, a staff specialist at Walter Reed, supervised the exercises.

Removing his prosthetic arm or leg and sitting up, Wagner positions a mirror on its side facing his outstretched left leg. He then does a number of workouts with his left foot, like rolling it in circles and also imitating pressing the gas pedal.
All the while he is taking a look at the left foot's representation, which arouses a sensation of movement in his unnoticeable right foot.

" It's really weird," Wagner conceded.

Individuals will usually do activities like these 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week for a total amount of eight weeks. If the pain continues, which according to Tsao it can even after two years without the treatment, they begin the cycle once more.

The Military medical facility has actually treated 652 of the complete 904 service participants that have shed arms, legs, arms and hands. It doesn't count lost fingers or toes.

The hand isn't quicker than the eye.

There are two concepts about what creates phantom discomfort.

The very first deals with mismatched signals in between an individual's vision and the intact neurons that dictated the movement of the missing arm or leg. Eyes see one point, neurons an additional.

Another theory presumes that proprioceptive-or muscle-memory keeps particular positions of arm or legs, some of which are shateringly traumatic.

Before exercising with the mirror, Wagner claimed he often had the sensation that one toe was crossed over one more or he felt like someone was stabbing him between his toes.

Dr. Tsao recommends the mirror treatment is "like a computer system cleaning your memory barrier.".

Starting in 2006, "mirror image therapy" has actually considering that grown into wide use. Though it has actually had blended results amongst amputees as well as hasn't already been quite effective yet with arm or hand phantom pain, Wagner is a testimony to its power.

Funneling the concepts behind the treatment, Wagner has transformed it into his very own inspirational rule.

" Special needs is just a state of mind.".

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