alexa Using visual illusion to reduce at-level neuropathic pain in paraplegia.


Journal of Spine

Author(s): Moseley GL

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Abstract Neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury is not well understood and is difficult to treat. One possible cause is mismatch between motor commands and sensory feedback. This two-part study in five paraplegic patients investigated whether a visual illusion aimed to correct this mismatch reduces pain. In study 1, patients undertook three conditions: (i) virtual walking: with a mirror placed in front of a screen, patients aligned their own upper body with a film of a lower body walking. Patients imagined walking and 'watched themselves' walk; (ii) guided imagery; (iii) watching a film. One patient withdrew from virtual walking because of distress. For all patients, the mean (95\% CI) decrease in pain (100 mm VAS) was 42 mm (approximately 65\%) (11-73 mm) for virtual walking, 18 mm (4-31 mm) for guided imagery and 4mm (-3 to 11 mm) for watching the film. Mean (95\% CI) time to return to pre-task pain was 34.9 min (20.1-49.8 min) for virtual walking; 13.9 min (-0.9 to 28.8 min) for the guided imagery and 16.3 min (1.5-31.2 min) for the film. To investigate its clinical utility, four patients underwent virtual walking every weekday for 3 weeks. Mean (95\% CI) decrease in pain was 53 mm (45-61 mm) at post training and 43 mm (27-58 mm) at 3-month follow-up. Virtual walking may be a viable treatment for pain after spinal cord injury. A clinical trial seems warranted. This article was published in Pain and referenced in Journal of Spine

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