The phantom limb term describes the subtle sensation of something that can only be felt but not seen. As interesting as it sounds it is more disorienting than it seems.
More than 50% percent of amputees relate to this syndrome which usually turns into painful and uncanny experiences which make them feel like the limb they miss is smaller than in reality. It gets harder when a prosthesis comes in the game.
A new research comes in handy
École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) from Switzerland has conducted an investigation which might make amputees feel better about their missing limb/s. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry is home to a recent paper from these researchers which shows that the brain of an amputee can be tricked in a way that the person will think that their prosthetics hand its perfect for them and blends with their body.
How does it work?
The team has come up with a system called Roginini which stimulates an amputee’s nerve to make them feel a tactile sensation on their phantom limb’s index finger. Simultaneously the index finger will be illuminated on a prosthetic device which will be depicted to them by using a virtual reality handset. The mind will be congealed by the combination of tactile and visual sensation so the perception of the phantom limb will the restored into the prosthesis.
Studies have been conducted on amputees, and they prove that after 10 minutes of the experiments the subjects would still feel the extension of their phantom after the stimulation has stopped. They admitted that the prosthetic felt like their own hand.
This experiment will be developed further to see if this effect can become permanent and if the pain can be eliminated forever.
Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here