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Neurosci Lett. 1999 Sep 10;272(2):131-4.

Decrease in phantom limb pain associated with prosthesis-induced increased use of an amputation stump in humans.

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Friedrich Schiller University, Institute of Psychology, Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, Jena, Germany.


The experience of phantom limb pain, non-painful phantom limb sensation and telescoping was ascertained by questionnaire in a group of upper extremity amputees wearing a functionally effective Sauerbruch prosthesis which permits extensive use of the affected limb and in a group of patients wearing a cosmetic prosthesis that did little to increase the utilization of the amputation stump. The Sauerbruch prosthesis group exhibited a significant and large decrease in amount of phantom limb pain while the cosmetic prosthesis group showed no change. Neither group experienced a decrease in non-painful phantom limb sensation or telescoping. The amount of phantom limb pain has been found to be highly correlated with the amount of injury-related, afferent-decrease cortical reorganization. It is possible that the increased use of the amputation stump induced by wearing a Sauerbruch prosthesis produced a countervailing use-dependent, afferent-increase type of cortical reorganization that reversed the phantom limb pain. These preliminary results require replication. Their therapeutic implications are discussed.

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