Alleviation of pain with the use of mirror therapy in vascular amputees

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Alleviation of pain with the use of mirror therapy in vascular amputees

Brain can feel pain even after an arm or leg amputation but a new treatment using mirrors can provide some relief to these sufferers. This common phenomenon is known as phantom limb pain. Although, its causes are not fully understood, one theory is that there is a mismatch between what brain sees and what it feels.

 Fortunately, mirror therapy offers a promising treatment for vascular amputees and improves functionality. Recently a pilot study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of  using a mirror therapy with an amputee limb cover to eliminate the effects of electromagnetic fields. Fourteen subjects were enrolled with either acute amputations or surgery at least 8 to 24 months previously and researchers used cross-sectional repeated measures design.

 During 4-week intervention, an amputee limb cover provided to participants and allowed to perform mirror therapy exercises every day. Furthermore, activities of daily living interference (e.g., self-care, walking, car transfer, low chair transfer, sleep) and well-being (e.g., satisfaction, mood, quality of life) at three times (pre- and posttreatment and maintenance) were the outcomes measures.

 All fourteen subjects reported an overall decrease in phantom limb pain. For the acute group, significant improvements were found in self-care, walking, car transfer, sleep, mood, and quality of life,while the other group significantly improved in sleep and satisfaction.  A reduction in the time required before prosthetic fitting decreased from 12 weeks to 8 weeks for acute amputees and an improvement in wearing tolerance from 0-2 to 8-12 hours for the subacute amputees were unexpected results.

 All in all, use of this combined treatment protocol shows promising results for amputees and enhance participation in everyday activities and improve the quality of life.

Occup Ther Health Care


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