With today’s advanced healthcare technology, many medical mysteries have been investigated and solved. However, phantom limb syndrome is one medical phenomenon that scientists and doctors are still trying to fully understand. What is phantom limb syndrome, and why is it so mysterious?
According to researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital, “phantom limb syndrome is the perception of sensations, including pain, in a limb that has been amputated. People with this condition experience feelings in the limb as if it were still attached to their body. This is because the brain continues to receive messages from nerves that originally carried impulses from the missing limb.” What makes this syndrome so interesting is that patients experience pain that seems to be an illusion to outsiders, but to them, it is completely real. This study by The University of Sussex, in Brighton, England, has found that “up to 98% of people with an amputation experience a phantom limb at some point. 75% of these people experience these sensations as soon as the anesthetic subsides, and for the remainder the phantoms usually come about a few days or weeks post-operation.” These percentages are astonishing and support the evidence that so many amputees suffer with this syndrome.
The University of Sussex also found that phantom limb symptoms may fade over time for some people while in others, they may last a lifetime. Researchers are still trying to uncover why some people are more likely to lose the phantom pain than others.
One doctor who has made significant strides in explaining phantom limb pain and trying to reverse its effects is Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Ramachandran is well known for his books “Phantoms in the Brain” and “The Tell-Tale Brain,” which explain his research and findings in comprehensible language that is easy to understand. He has used experimental methods to try to help patients who struggle with phantom limb pain and applies simple approaches such as neuroimaging and mirror visual feedback to rehabilitate patients.
Somnia supports medical professionals like Dr. Ramachandran, who are dedicating their lives to improving conditions for suffering patients. As an anesthesia management company, Somnia understands pain management, and supports the collaborative efforts of researchers, scientists, doctors and administrators when it comes to patient care. For a more in-depth discussion of Somnia’s collaborative efforts within our evolving healthcare structure, download our white paper, The Role of Anesthesia in Accountable Care Organizations from our Thought Leadership library.
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