Surface Stimulation to Alleviate Phantom Limb Pain

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Katharine Polasek, Hope College

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Phantom Limb Pain is a post-amputation phenomenon causing painful sensation seeming to originate in the missing limb. These sensations range from mild to severe and with intermittent occurrences in 50-80% of amputees. Pain is believed to be the result of misfiring of neurons in the area of the cerebral cortex responsible for sensations in the missing limb. Stimulating sensory neurons in the residual limb may be used to deceive the sensory area of the cerebral cortex to cease the painful misfiring. Prior to testing in amputees, the following hypothesis will be tested in able-bodied individuals: Surface electrical stimulation at the elbow can produce normal sensation in the hand. Input requirements were developed to satisfy this experimental protocol. A software program was then designed to meet the input requirements. Verification testing of the equipment and final software were administered to insure all requirements were met. A new research application was completed and reviewed by the Hope College Human Subjects Review Board. Approval of the research application will allow for research with able-bodied subjects with future work to build off of these results for amputees.


This project is funded by The Hope College Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences Faculty Research Fund.

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