Feeds

Fixing phantom limbs with virtual reality

Pain relief through pixels

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Amputees suffering from phantom limb pain could be helped by a virtual reality system being developed by scientists at the University of Manchester.

Earlier research has shown that phantom limb pain can be alleviated by fooling the brain into thinking that it can see and move the amputated limb. The Manchester scientists have developed a virtual world in which patients have their missing limb replaced with a virtual one.

The research has focused on a small group of patients who had lost a limb between one and 40 years ago. Two were upper limb amputees and two had lost parts of their legs. They all used the virtual world between seven and 10 times over the course of three months. Each session lasted for 30 minutes.

The patients were fitted with special data gloves and sensors, and their head and arm movements were monitored. They donned virtual reality helmets and entered a world where they could see their missing limb restored.

In this virtual universe, patients can move their fingers, hands, arms, feet and legs. They also have hand eye co-ordination, and can use their virtual limb to play ball games, the researchers say.

The results shocked the researchers: four of the five patients reported improvements in the phantom limb pain, and much faster than the team had expected.

Project leader Dr Craig Murray said: "One patient felt that the fingers of her amputated hand were continually clenched into her palm, which was very painful for her. However, after just one session using the virtual system she began to feel movement in her fingers and the pain began to ease."

The team has presented the findings at a conference in Denmark on the use of virtual reality for rehabilitation. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.