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Gaming-type setup relieves phantom limb pain

Muscle signals from a man's amputated arm let the patient move a complete virtual arm, which he can see on a computer screen.

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Patients may be able to use something similar to a gaming setup to reduce phantom limb pain. Attaching electrodes to the muscles of a person’s partial limb and relaying the nerve signals into a computer where a patient can watch and control the movement of a full, virtual arm or leg reduced one amputee's pain and helped him sleep through the night.

The relief could come from reactivating motor areas in the brain that were wired for the amputated region, scientists suggest February 25 in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Because the new treatment uses the patient’s partial limb, rather than a mirror image of his full one, the setup could be offered to patients who are double amputees or who have more challenges with conventional therapies.

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