Phantom Limbs: Sensations When There Should be None Essay

1045 Words5 Pages
Phantom Limbs: Sensations When There Should be None

The phenomenon known as the phantom limb occurs in 95-100% of amputees. It can occur soon after amputation or occur years later. It is when patients feel sensations where the arm or leg used to be as if it were still there. These sensations can be either non-painful sensations or painful sensations, which are called phantom limb pain. These non-painful sensations are described as similar feels as if the limb were there such as warmth, tingling, itching, and movement. Phantom limb pain is described as stabbing, cramping, burning and shooting pain. Non-painful sensations usually occur soon after amputation and continue throughout life. It has been found that the strongest sites for
…show more content…
Melzack found that the phantom limb occurred by rain or by dreams where it was thought that there were two normal hands. An 11 year old girl reported that she felt pain in her fingers (she had no arm below the elbow) if she bumped her funny bone. Others have said that they felt tingling, itching or even numbness in arms or legs that they did not have. (3).This study concur the findings of a Swiss group who had a woman with no limbs that still felt movement when they stimulated parts of her brain that usually sense limb movement magnetically. (4).

Learning that people who were born without limbs can experience phantom limbs have made scientists reevaluate the theories they have about how the nervous system develops. The Swiss group showed through experience performed on this woman that her brain still has a sensory map for the limbs that she does not have. If was believed before that if a person did not have an arm that they did not develop the neurons to feel an arm. It is believed that for amputees that the neurons that used to receive feelings from the limbs are still firing which is the cause of phantom limbs. But with this woman, magnetic resonance imaging showed neuronal activity in parts of the brain, when she said she was moving her phantom limb. (4).

Phantom limb occurs not only in those who lose a limb or were never born with one, it can occur in people who are paraplegic that have a complete break in the spinal cord. Even though no signals can get

More about Phantom Limbs: Sensations When There Should be None Essay

Get Access