June 2007
Volume 7, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2007
Three new visual methods for generating phantom sensations: case studies in the relief of upper and lower phantom limb pain, and benign essential tremors
Author Affiliations
  • David Peterzell
    VA San Diego Health Care System, University of California, San Diego, and Alliant International University
  • Roberta Cone
    VA San Diego Health Care System, and Alliant International University
  • Christian Carter
    VA San Diego Health Care System, and Alliant International University
  • Judy Epler-Ortega
    VA San Diego Health Care System
  • Alexandrea Harmell
    VA San Diego Health Care System, and University of California, San Diego
  • Deborah Velez
    VA San Diego Health Care System
  • Kathleen Parkes
    VA San Diego Health Care System, and University of California, San Diego
  • Vilayanur Ramachandran
    University of California, San Diego
  • John McQuaid
    VA San Diego Health Care System, and University of California, San Diego
Journal of Vision June 2007, Vol.7, 774. doi:10.1167/7.9.774
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      David Peterzell, Roberta Cone, Christian Carter, Judy Epler-Ortega, Alexandrea Harmell, Deborah Velez, Kathleen Parkes, Vilayanur Ramachandran, John McQuaid; Three new visual methods for generating phantom sensations: case studies in the relief of upper and lower phantom limb pain, and benign essential tremors. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):774. doi: 10.1167/7.9.774.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

A mirror box apparatus has been used previously to reduce or eliminate phantom limb pain in amputees and to generate phantom sensations (e.g., tingling) in normal subjects (Ramachandran, Altschuler). We created three apparati that generate phantom sensations in patients and normals, using them to reduce clinical symptoms in some instances when the mirror box was ineffective. The first apparatus uses three vertical mirrors, much like mirrors used in garment stores, with panes oriented at angles that enable viewers to see reversed mirror images of themselves from the side. The second uses two mirrors to provide alternative angles for lower-limb amputees. The third uses a real-time video image of the individual that flickers between a normal image and a mirror-reversed image at rates varying from 0.5 to 3 cycles/sec (with a .2 sec delay). The first and third methods induce sensations of tingling, movement, and temperature change in the hands and arms of some normal subjects. Participants were four amputees (left arm) using the first and third apparati, one lower limb (right leg) amputee using the second, and a woman with benign essential tremors using the third. When arm-amputees moved their remaining arm and hand while viewing modified images, they experienced sensations and movement in the missing limb. One upper limb amputee reports complete and permanent cessation of phantom pain following use of the tri-partite mirror. The first and third apparati generate or amplify sensations of the phantom hand on the cheek, even in amputees who did not experience referred sensations previously. The two-mirror apparatus contributed to the reduction and near cessation of phantom pain in the lower limb amputee. The third apparatus produced a noticable reduction in tremors in the remaining subject, including tremors affecting speech. We speculate that human mirror neurons play roles in producing these effects.

Peterzell, D. Cone, R. Carter, C. Epler-Ortega, J. Harmell, A. Velez, D. Parkes, K. Ramachandran, V. McQuaid, J. (2007). Three new visual methods for generating phantom sensations: case studies in the relief of upper and lower phantom limb pain, and benign essential tremors [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 7(9):774, 774a, http://journalofvision.org/7/9/774/, doi:10.1167/7.9.774. [CrossRef]
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