Scientists use pixels to ease amputees' pain

o something that may have a real positive impact on someone's health and well being."

Project leader, Dr Craig Murray of the School of Psychological Sciences, said "Many people who undergo an amputation experience a phantom limb. These are often very painful for the person concerned. They can persist for many years, and are very difficult to treat.

"One patient felt that the fingers of her amputated hand were continually clenched into her palm, which was very painful for her. However, after just one session using the virtual system she began to feel movement in her fingers and the pain began to ease."

Each participant used the system between seven and 10 times over the course of two to three months. Sessions lasted around 30 minutes and involved putting on a special virtual reality headset.

Upper-limb amputees were fitted with a special data glove and had sensors attached to the elbow and wrist joints. Sensors were fitted to the knee and ankle joints of lower-limb amputees. Head and arm movements were also monitored.

The three men and two women who took part in the study were aged between 56 and 65. The group included three arm amputees and two leg amputees, who had lost limbs between one and 40 years ago.

The University of Manchester research team hopes to include a larger number of patients in their future work in order to identify those most likely to benefit from the virtual reality system they have developed.


Contact: Alex Waddington
University of Manchester

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