Surface Stimulation to Alleviate Phantom Limb Pain: Current Control Waveform

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Katherine Polasek

Document Type


Event Date



Phantom limb pain is a post-amputation phenomenon where an amputee experiences painful sensations in their missing limb. The cause of phantom limb pain may be cortical reorganization, which occurs when areas that controlled the missing limb are activated by adjacent areas of the cerebral cortex. This reorganization could result in painful sensations when an adjacent area is touched. By using electrical stimuli as a substitute for sensory input from the missing limb, cortical reorganization may be reversed and therefore provide some relief from phantom limb pain.

Previous studies by our group used voltage control stimulation while many other electrical stimulation applications used current control. The goal of this study was to compare the different sensations obtained between the two types of stimulation. The hand thresholds and maximum stimulation were determined to define the parameter space. Points within that area were tested at 100µs and 500µs pulse widths, all at 25%, 50%, and 75% of the range between the hand thresholds and maximum stimulation. These points were tested varying between current and voltage controlled stimulation. The type, magnitude, and location of sensation were recorded for each trial. Hand sensation and magnitude results were similar between the two types of stimulations; therefore voltage controlled stimulation will be used in future trials as there is less risk for painful sensation during testing.


This material is based upon work supported by the Hope College Dean for Natural and Applied Sciences.

This document is currently not available here.