Phantom Limbs


"See if you can reach out and grab this cup in your right hand. What are you feeling now?"

I feel my fingers clasping the cup."

"Okay try it again." (As the patient tries to reach for the cup, the doctor pulls it farther away)

"Ouch! Why did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"It felt like you ripped the cup right out of my fingers." (James Shreeve, June 1993)

In a normal situation, the patient would have had the cup pulled out of his hand. However, the patient, Fred Aryee, did not have his right arm; he lost it in a storm at sea. How is this possible? When Mr. Aryee lost his arm in 1983, he should not have any feelings after its loss. Yet in amputees, this condition, known as phantom limbs, is all too common. Oftentimes, the feelings that occur are simply ones of normal perception, but often, they are very painful, resulting in another condition called phantom pain.

SO WHAT IS A PHANTOM LIMB? Sometimes referred to as "stump hallucination": it is the subjective sensation, not arising from an external stimulus, that an amputated limb is still present.

THEORIES
PAIN

PLASTICITY

TREATMENT

CASE STUDIES

Interview(In Audio!)

Related Links

REFERENCES