Cmdr. Jack Tsao is the director of Traumatic Brain Injury programs at theU.S. Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery.
In the last five years, through my academic affiliation appointment at the Uniformed Services University, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people at Walter Reed Army Medical Center including COL Paul Pasquina (head of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation) and COL (ret.) Charles Scoville to examine why Mirror Therapy seems to be an effective treatment in what is a common phenomenon in Wounded Warriors with amputation: Phantom Limb Pain (PLP).
Phantom Limb Pain is the sensation that a limb is still present and experiencing pain following amputation and occurs in 90 percent of amputees. Often an amputee begins to experience this phenomenon immediately after surgery; this is typically followed by a gradual fading of the limb from memory. Patients frequently report that this phantom limb is stuck in an uncomfortable position or has the sensation of pain, electric shocks, or itching. There are an infinite variety of sensations associated with PLP, from merely uncomfortable to debilitating, but they have one thing in common: pharmacologic therapies are generally ineffectual.