Mirror box therapy

House M.D., one of my favourite series, showed an interesting device to treat phantom pain in amputated limbs, called a mirror box.

In season 6, episode 3, House captures a vet amputee, who’s being suffering phantom pains for over 30 years and uses a mirror box to help him relax the non existent hand.
The technique was developed in 1995. A lot of amputee suffer pains in the missing limbs, called phantom pains, since pain originates in the brain. The damaged nerves may report a problem to the brain, and we interpret it as pain. That’s how our brain signals there’s something wrong.
The therapy jumps on this theory, and tries to recreate the missing limb with a mirror. The patient sees the reflection of his healthy hand in place of the amputated one, and that subconsciously tricks the brain to think the missing limb is in place. Relaxing the healthy hand looks like relaxing the amputated one, and the brain removes the alert signal.
This technique is reported to be working, however, it normally takes more than one session to achieve results.

1 thought on “Mirror box therapy”

  1. Mirror therapy was first described by V.S. Ramachandran for treatment of phantom limb pain, but has since been proven in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) / RSD, and stroke rehabilitation, as well as for hand and foot rehabilitation following an injury or surgery. http://www.mirrorboxtherapy.com is a good place to start; it has lots of information and a link to where you can purchase a mirror box.

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