Returning Iraq veteran amputees using an odd neural pathway to trick the brain to treat phantom limb pain…
Dr. Jack Tsao, a Navy neurologist with the Uniform Services University, was looking for ways to help soldiers like Paupore. He remembered reading in graduate school a paper by Dr. V.S. Ramachandran that talked about an unusual treatment for amputees suffering “phantom limb pain,” using a simple $20 mirror.
The mirror tricks the brain into “seeing” the amputated leg, overriding mismatched nerve signals.
Here’s how it works: The patient sits on a flat surface with his or her remaining leg straight out and then puts a 6-foot mirror lengthwise facing the limb. The patient moves the leg, flexing it, and watches the movement in the mirror. The reflection creates the illusion of two legs moving together.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. While improvements in armor technology have kept more soldiers alive than ever before, many of those saved are coming home as amputees. We’ve explicitly asked the question before, and the number of posts we’ve done on the subject serves as evidence: for better or worse, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are driving major advancements in medical research and technology.
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Photo Credit: michiyoemi