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Treating Phantom Limbs Essay

1152 words - 5 pages

Limited understanding of phantom limbs hinders the effectiveness of treating phantom sensations and pain. There are several theories as to the causes of phantom limbs only two main areas central and peripheral nervous system. The main three treatments are cognitive-behavioral therapy with extinction, pharmaceuticals and mirror therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy retrains the brain to use extinction to perceive the limb is gone. Pharmaceuticals are the most common way of treating conditions and easier to show evidence. Mirror therapy is a newer and becoming commonly associated treatment for phantom limb pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy shows promise with less risk of side effects by the two persuasive and evidence backed treatments.

Understanding the current theories holds the current approaches to treatments. The two main theories are divided into two groups: central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Central nervous system concludes that the issues of phantom limb are due to the brain’s plasticity and remapping of the sensations (Moseley & Flor, 2012). The peripheral nervous system is damage and misread signals from the site of phantom to the brain. Growing support for the central nervous system as to the primary cause is from the fact that congenital missing limbs have no reason for miscommunication to the brain (Weeks, Anderson-Barnes & Tsao, 2010). Data is correlation based as to the ethical dilemma of removing a healthy limb from a human being. Understand why certain treatments work may give insight as to the underlying cause of phantom limb sensation.

Cognitive-behaviour therapy is based on the brain’s ability of neuroplasticity as to retrain the brain and learn extinction of the phantom limb. Treatment consists of two parts: retraining the brain in managing pain and the extinction of the missing limb. The cognitive-behaviour aspect of treatment helps to train for effective coping and pain management in order for the patient to take control (Moseley et al., 2012). Often the patient’s feelings of hopelessness reinforce the pain, so it is import to teach effective strategies (Moseley et al., 2012). This control allows for a patient to improve their lives by giving them the power over themselves. Cognitive-behaviour therapy leads to the ability for the brain to recognize the loss which is paramount for extinction. Extinction has to be done in various situations to prevent relapse, especially in different environments (Moseley et al., 2012). Extinction of the phantom limb is the desired result and may be made more effective by the use of cannabinoids (Moseley et al., 2012). There is limited information on the effectiveness and little documentation on the specific effectiveness of the cannabinoid by itself in the treatment of phantom limbs. Cognitive-behaviour therapy with extinction is a long treatment and even without extinction there are positive outlook can give a better quality of life and can be used with other...

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