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Natural sensory feedback for phantom limb pain modulation and therapy

Coordinator: Winnie JENSEN
Project Number: 602547
EC contribution: 5,982,840.00
Project website: under construction

Amputation of a limb may result from trauma or surgical intervention. The amputation traumatically alters the body image, but often leaves sensations that refer to the missing body part. In 50-80% amputees, neuropathic pain develops, also called phantom limb pain (PLP). Both peripheral and central nervous system factors have been implicated as determinants of PLP. Also, PLP may be triggered by physical (changes in the weather) and psychological factors (emotional stress).

Recent evidence suggests that PLP may be intricately related to neuroplastic changes in the cortex, and that these changes may modulated by providing sensory input to the stump or amputation zone. However, the understanding of why PLP occurs is still poor, the basic research results have not been tested on a large scale in the clinic, and there are no fully effective, long-term treatments readily available on the market. We aim to challenge the status-quo of PLP therapy by offering technological solutions that will invasively or non-invasively induce natural, meaningful sensations to the amputee to restore the neuroplastic changes in the cortex and thereby control and alleviate PLP.

We will assess the effect of cortical neuroplastic, psychological and cognitive components of pain and integrate the knowledge into clinical guidelines. The proposed work directly targets the HEALTH.2013.2.2.1-5 topic. The consortium will build solutions based on existing technologies emerging from previous EU funded research which are presently only available in experimental settings.

We believe that implementation of proposed work will be the cornerstone needed to exploit, validate and translate the basic research results into clinical applications and provide long-term, patient-specific solutions to a large group of patients suffering from PLP. The work will assist to improve the quality of life for amputees suffering from phantom limb pain and is of high socio-economic relevance to the EU.

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