It’s the mirrors

Thanks to some great responses to my last post about my phantom limb pain, I learned about an incredible thing called mirror therapy. Mirror therapy is becoming a widely used technique for dealing with phantom limb pain, and after trying it I have been able to change the position that my phantom leg has felt locked in for the first time since my surgery!

My awesome mom went out and got me this mirror today so that I can benefit from this great technique. Basically it works just by tricking your brain. You put the mirror so that it looks like you are looking at your missing leg. You then move your two legs so that it feels like the reflection you see moving is actually your missing leg. I can’t move my phantom ankle, but I can make my leg feel like it is swinging at the knee, so I do that motion with my phantom leg, and simultaneously copy the motion with my real leg. The result is that my brain feels my leg moving and it sees it moving in the mirror. It starts to associate what I see in the mirror as my phantom leg. My toes start uncurling and the pain in the arch of my foot goes away. I can just sit and look at my reflected leg for a while and the pain in my phantom leg disappears.

When I am not looking at it in the mirror the pain still comes and goes, but it is much better than it was! The fact that there are actually times that my toes don’t feel painfully crossed and my leg is straight rather than bent at the knee is pretty cool, especially considering all I did was look in a mirror for a little while. Thanks for finding this guys, it really helps a lot!

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12 Responses to It’s the mirrors

  1. Laura B says:

    That’s amazing! I’m so glad it’s working. It’s weird to think that you don’t control your own brain’s functions. Thanks for sharing and keeping us updated. Praying for you a lot!

  2. peggy redfern says:

    Wow, that is amazing! Never heard of that before.

    I’m thankful for this discovery!

  3. Paula Parris says:

    Now that’s a great therapy–so glad that it’s helping with the phantom pain! We will continue to pray for good outcomes like this!

    It’s beginning to look like spring in Atlanta with daffodils and early trees in bloom.

  4. Peggy Guthrie says:

    Hmmm. This could lead to other discoveries about the brain. So thankful for this help for you!

  5. Jen Hester says:

    Rob,
    I am a friend of Caryn (aka short bus) and I had no idea until a little while ago what you were going through. I have just today finished reading your blog…have to say once I started reading it, I was a tad obsessed. You are an amazing person and a true testament to how God works in amazing ways to provide, protect and lift his people up. I have loved following your story and am looking forward to your full recovery and seeing you back here in Atlanta up and running around soon.

    Take care and thank you for sharing your story!

    -Jen

  6. janie redfearn morris says:

    Marcus and I saw this type therapy reported on in the March 7th TIME issue on pain management. I mentioned it to Roslyn on Sunday. He actually emailed the article to her today from the office since she said that that issue was no longer available up there. This is a million times better!!!!!! SO glad that you are actually getting it for your phantom pain. I am such a believer in holistic health treatments when they are applicable. It sounds amazing and so helpful. We are so thankful that it is providing you some much needed relief. Who ever would have thought this type of simple act would be so beneficial?!!! Hang in there. Praying healing and all of GOD’S best to you all from here in Cohutta!!!! Love you all. Janie

  7. Gari B. Lugar says:

    Your Momma is an amazing Nurse!!!

  8. MH & Charlie says:

    Rob–we always seem to be a few days behind, but when I read this post I was absolutely amazed. Even 15 years ago, Dr.’s, physical therapists etc., seemed to know the why’s of phantom pain, but had absolutely no positive helps. I was given magnet therapy, which was useless, and suggestions of an anti-depressant, that I wanted no part of. It is so heartening to see that some real progress has been made, and that you have been blessed to be advised of it. It is obvious that your support group is huge, caring, and proactive!

  9. Courtney says:

    That is so amazing, Rob!!!

  10. Lee Cross, MD says:

    As an orthopaedic surgeon who has done many amputations, this is a new idea to me. The mind is amazing. Before I jump on the band wagon that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I am waiting for some good science on this one. However if it works for you, I certainly wouldn’t argue with using this harmless technique. Personally I like it. It does no harm as opposed to narcotics for chronic, nonmalignant pain that don’t work and just cause more disability, or TENS units that don’t work in randomized controlled studies.

  11. Pingback: Tricked by the mirrors | sacredmargins

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