Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hand Prosthesis Eases Phantom Pain

"Phantom pain is very difficult to treat," says Professor Dr Thomas Weiss from the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany. 
"In many cases the symptoms persist, in spite of high dosages of painkillers. This puts patients at a high risk of medication addiction" the professor at the Department for Biological and Clinical Psychology says. 

But now scientists of the University of Jena give cause for hope to the affected patients. Together with the trauma surgeons of the Jena University Hospital, business partners and support by the German Social Accident Insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, DGVU),  Professor Weiss´s team modified conventional hand prostheses in order to reduce phantom pain after an underarm amputation.

A stimulation unit connected to the remaining part of the upper arm by a cuff plays a crucial part in the newly developed medical device.
"There are pressure sensors between thumb and index finger as well as on the thumb of the hand prosthesis," Professor/ Dr Gunther Hofmann, Director of the Jena Department for Trauma, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery explains.
Originally they were only meant to regulate the strength of grip of the artificial hand -- depending on what the patient wanted to pick up -- a raw egg or a hammer.
"Our system is now able to transmit this sensory information from the hand to the upper arm," says trauma surgeon Hofmann. 
"The brain picks up the feedback from the prosthesis as if it was one´s own hand," Professor Weiss adds, explaining the cause for phantom pain: The brain structures that were originally responsible for the stimulus processing of the arm are suddenly "out of work" after the loss of the limb. This induces a functional re-organization of these brain regions.
"These areas take over the processing of sensory stimuli from other body parts, especially the arm stump and the face," says the Jena psychologist.  As a result, intensified and sometimes painful sensations occur -- the phantom pain.
By means of the feedback between the artificial hand and the brain, provided by the Jena system, the re-organization of the brain is supposed to be prevented or to be reversed. "The first patients who have tested the system were very positive about it," Professor Hofmann was delighted to report. It is important now to test the feedback system on as many patients as possible, he added.
"We would like to know if the transmission of sensory information from the hand is helpful to only a few people or if it is a therapeutic for all wearers of artificial limbs," says Professor Weiss.
--ScienceNews 08/09/10

The Homunculus and Remapping Video Clip


Monday, October 25, 2010

Phantom Limb Contractures Chart & Video Clip

These are eight of a number of different phantom limb contractures. The missing limb may feel as if it is in a 
distorted and painful position.  Ramachandran and Blakeslee describe that some people's representations of 
their limbs do not actually match what they should be, 
for example, one amputee reported that her phantom arm 
was about "6 inches too short".  (Ramachandran & Blakeslee 1998). 


Friday, October 8, 2010

ETPP Partners with The Amputee Coalition of British Columbia

A unique partnership has been struck by End The Pain Project and The Amputee Coalition of British Columbia, both serving the needs of amputees.
The mission of The Amputee Coalition of BC is to support and empower amputees through education, advocacy, physical activity and mentoring. Its vision to ensure that every amputee in British Columbia has the tools, guidance and support that will enable them to lead full and productive lives to the extent of their ability is in line with the mission and vision of End The Pain Project.

Plans are in the works for the two organizations to jointly operate an Amputee Re-Entry Centre in Richmond, B.C. starting in January, under the auspices of Dr. Don Nixdorf, a widely esteemed BC chiropractor and advocate for amputees. 

Keep watching this blog for the actual opening date and the services that will be provided to amputees.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Table-Top Mirror now available from ETPP for hand/arm amputees suffering Phantom Limb Pain

ETPP Table-Top Mirror in use
A Table-Top Mirror for Mirror Therapy use by hand/arm amputees suffering Phantom Limb Pain, has been designed and developed by Marty Moser, an End The Pain Project associate.  The easy-to-setup, portable Table-Top Mirror which measures 10"x13" when folded for storage, is constructed of sturdy but lightweight white cardboard and unbreakable acrylic mirror.

Priced at $20 + $6 postage, the Table-Top Mirror can be ordered through End The Pain Project.  Net proceeds fund mirrors for amputees in third world countries.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cross Border Affair Wine Tasting Saturday, Oct 23, 3 pm Fundraiser for ETPP

A fun way to spend an afternoon: Like Washington wine? Or is it all BC for you? Tried the fruits of our local wine regions side by side? Neighbors, Okanagan Valley and the Columbia Valley are both evolving extensive fruit growing into a complex, comprehensive wine culture.

We're fierce local supporters on both sides - but what does your palate say? The wine tasting goal is to compare 5 BC and 5 Washington wines in an informative and entertaining setting. No pressure to swirl, sniff, spit or swill a certain way. Learn a little, try a lot and hopefully, find new favourite wines!

And the #1 Cross Border Wine Tasting door prize is fabulous! 2 tix to the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest 2011. $190 value! And opportunities to win other great door prizes!

All proceeds go to End The Pain Project - a non-profit helping amputees at home and abroad whose lives are impacted by phantom limb pain.

Tix $35: RSVP Samantha
Where: Point Roberts Marina 713 Simundson Drive -Upstairs Club

P.S. Don't forget your passport!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beth Darnall, PhD, develops self-treatment tool for phantom pain

Beth Darnall, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, has developed an instructional DVD to enable amputees to self-treat their phantom pain. Do It Yourself Mirror Therapy teaches patients how to use this evidence-based treatment at home, making it a cost-effective non-pharmacologic treatment for phantom pain.

“When mirror therapy is practiced, the brain is exposed to the image of the intact limb repeatedly and receives the message that both limbs are intact and functioning,” said Dr. Darnall. “When mirror therapy is used consistently over the course of one month, phantom pain may lessen or even resolve.”

Functional MRI studies show that positive results from mirror therapy are related to cortical restructuring in the brain. It is thought that a remapping of the body map in the brain reduces or eliminates any distortion that may have been created when the brain tried to reconcile the amputation.

“Our study findings are promising, and self-treatment is especially important where access to pain care is severely limited,” said Dr. Darnall. She is currently working with a global non-profit organization called End the Pain Project to bring mirror therapy tool kits to amputees in Vietnam and Cambodia. HealthSaas has made it possible to evaluate their progress from Portland.

Dr. Darnall recently presented an instructional session on mirror therapy to amputees and caregivers at the national conference of the Amputee Coalition of America. In October, an OHSU N.L. Tartar Trust Fellowship will fund her travel to the annual conference of the Egyptian Society for the Management of Pain where she will present her findings on self-delivered mirror therapy. While she is in Cairo, Dr. Darnall will also meet with researchers at Al-Ahzar University to discuss a collaborative comparative effectiveness study of phantom pain treatments that will include mirror therapy.

From OHSU School of Medicine News 9/9/10

Saturday, July 10, 2010

HealthSaaS launches custom version of PainPHR 'Personal Health Record' a secure interactive online treatment tracking service for End The Pain Project

HealthSaaS, Inc specializing in web-based Sofware as a Service (SaaS) solutions with the cooperation of OHSU Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, has built a web-based Personal Health Record (PHR) Portal for End The Pain Project to specifically track the use of Mirror Therapy to reduce or eliminate Phantom Limb Pain in amputees.

End The Pain Project will offer the PainPHR to practitioners, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and NGO's in developing countries as a free secure online service. These registered users and their clients will have access to individual Pain Diaries 7 days a week, 24 hours a day anywhere in the world, providing there is an internet connection.

The PainPHR facilitates better communication between amputees and their healthcare providers. Patient-driven report data will help providers identify both effective and ineffective treatment. The providers may then make treatment modifications to improve efficacy and provide their clients with a more consistent and improved quality of life. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Portable Collapsible Mirror Therapy Box

An invaluable upper limb recovery tool, portable, collapsible and lightweight Mirror Box is offered by Reflex Pain Management Ltd., allowing rehabilitation exercises for amputees suffering Phantom Limb Pain, wherever and whenever. To avoid distortion, the unaffected limb should be held as close as possible near the mirror.
A lower-limb collapsible mirror box is under development and available in the near future.

Uncurling a Phantom Limb Contracture

Andrew T. Austin, respected NLP Master Practitioner, has found a way to uncurl or retract an upper phantom limb to enable effective mirror therapy.