«Block at the time of amputation». Found a way to avoid phantom pain

© Depositphotos / AlesMuntФантомная pain«Block at the time of amputation». Found a way to avoid phantom pain© Depositphotos / AlesMuntПодпишись to daily updates RIA Science

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Almost 80 percent of amputees to the end of life suffer from phantom pain. Often unpleasant feelings arise in lost hands and feet, sometimes whine even extracted teeth. RIA Novosti understands how it can hurt what is already there.

Virtual flapping his arms

In September 2014, 14 volunteers, a few years suffer from phantom pain in amputees, was sitting in front of computers in the laboratory of the Technological University of Chalmers (Sweden). Each stroke of their non-existent hands were displayed on the monitors the movements of the virtual hands is a special computer program reads the testimony of electrodes attached to the stumps, and compared them with the patterns characteristic of various movements, and converted into movement on the screen.

A computer simulation was part of a new method of treatment designed to help patients with phantom pain. Swedish scientists have suggested that if the brain show a virtual hand, the movement of which coincides with the intentions of the patient (how he wanted it to move), pain reduced. And it worked.

After six months of such treatment (12 sessions of virtual therapy), all participants of the experiment felt better. Most of the intensity of pain in amputees has been halved, those who are simultaneously taking medication (anticonvulsants), — at 81 percent. The effect persisted six months after the end of the study.

Swedish neuroscientists, ease the lives of 14 volunteers, proceeded from the assumption that after the amputation of a limb related neural network remain without work and, aroused randomly unable to receive signals (including pain) from other neural chains.

Vilayanur Ramachandran, head of the Center for the study of brain and cognitive activities of University of California (USA), also believes that phantom pain arises due to errors in the brain. After people have lost their hands or feet, disturbed mental body scheme is constructed by the brain’s internal model of the human body. As a result, the areas of the postcentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex (that’s where the signals come from different parts of the body) associated with an amputated limb, is not turned off and begin to perceive the signals on the adjacent part of the gyrus. So in lost limbs and pain occur. For example, if Pat the patient on the cheek, he could get sick an amputated arm.

That the neurons responsible for the occurrence of phantom pain, sure, and scientists from Oxford University (UK). With amputation of a limb, the brain does not recognize the loss and preserves the chain of nerve cells, responsible for its work.

After analyzing maps of brain activity of people suffering from chronic phantom pain, the researchers found that areas of the motor cortex associated with the amputated hand, these patients work the same way as people with intact limbs. In other words, a motor center in the brain continues to believe that the dismembered hand on the spot, and trying to manage it. The result is a conflict with other parts of the brain, understanding that the limbs are no more, and it causes a phantom pain.

«We cannot say that these concepts are new. Quite a long time, it was suggested that the amputation of the nervous system ceases to get her motor and sensory signals and replaces them with something else, in particular pain. But instrumental or otherwise, to confirm this theory, we can’t. We can only assume and based on that, trying to develop new approaches to treatment,» — says Maxim Turukalov.

According to him, due to the fact that the mechanism of phantom pain is still not completely understood, the main medical efforts are aimed at preventing phantom pain.

«In Moscow, at the Institute of Herzen (Moscow Oncology research Institute named after P. A. Herzen. — Approx. ed.) is now developed special prevention scheme. When the patient is preparing for amputation, he is taking several medications simultaneously. Then, during the operation, apply immediately and conduction anesthesia, and anesthesia, blocking at the time of amputation, the development of pain syndrome. If all of this is to hold adequately, almost in hundred percent cases it is possible to prevent the development of phantom pain syndrome,» — emphasizes the expert.«Block at the time of amputation». Found a way to avoid phantom pain© Fotolia / Andrea DantiМозг person is able to synthesize an analogue of valium, scientists have found