#FFPLP - Free From Phantom Limb Pain

#FFPLP [Free From Phantom Limb Pain]

Phantom limb pain is experienced to some degree by a majority of amputees. For about 10% of amputees, phantom limb pain persists long term, however, and for many results in a lifetime of excruciating and constant pain.

Although focused on a body part that no longer exists, this pain can cause significant disability and destroy an amputee’s quality of life. Pain demands attention, consumes conscious experience, and can leave the sufferer unable to focus on anything else.

There is currently no known treatment for long-term phantom limb pain that works in most cases. Even pain relief drugs, which come with significant long-term side-effects, are generally only partially effective at relieving phantom limb pain. Because it is felt by a minority of amputees, and because chronic pain sufferers tend to stop talking about their pain as it becomes clear it there is nothing further doctors can do "it is much easier to “get on with things” we believe the problem is much larger than many realise.

It is not a problem most amputees suffer from, but for those that do suffer from it there is no bigger problem in their life. 

If you would like to contribute to the data collected so far by PolyBionics please visit: Understanding Phantom Limb Pain .

PolyBionics proposes the creation of a smartphone app which is based on one of the more effective treatments for phantom limb pain, called “Mirror Therapy.” By using “Augmented Reality” technology, for which the technology in smartphones already exists, this app would provide mirror therapy benefits in a format that amputees can take anywhere, use whenever pain becomes intense, and could be even more effective than current mirror therapy.

The app will also collect invaluable data which could be used to inform future research into phantom limb pain, which, because of its nature, science still knows very little about.

While this app is unlikely to result in a “cure” for phantom limb pain, it could result in an very useful additional treatment. As the pain specialist advising this project says, “We have run out of conventional solutions to treat phantom limb pain. We have to start thinking creatively.”

In recent years there has been much speculation about the use of Augmented Reality to treat phantom limb pain, but the only research conducted has focused on upper limb amputees and used high cost technology. It is also many years away from being a viable product. This mobile application could be helping many lower limb amputees in need of relief in a very short time.

An early prototype of the app has been demonstrated to members of BLESMA (the limbless veterans charity in the UK) who suffer with intense long-term phantom limb pain. The demonstration sparked very strong interest from everyone who saw it, and you can read accounts of their struggle with pain and their enthusiasm for this project in the PolyBionics AR Limb App Proposal Document .

Augmented Rehabilitation Mobile App - Our App is in the MVP stages, PolyBionics is actively seeking to raise funds to take this product forward into an initial pilot study with a UK University and prove the benefits in its use for relieving Phantom Limb Pain.

In support of this project please use #FFPLP on social media and follow @PolyBionics.





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Nicholas Llewellyn-Jones 
Bristol, ENG
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