Hello my friends,
In this post I would like to share with you my amazing personal success with Mirror Therapy.
Months prior to my amputation I spent hours upon hours researching the web and like many in my situation found information pertaining the revolutionary, yet controversial, modality used to alleviate (and at times eliminate) phantom pains called Mirror Therapy.
I was determined to try it out and indeed had the fortune to so 4 weeks after surgery.
My experience in one sentence:
Mirror Therapy completely and utterly eliminated ALL my phantom pains!
For those of you that want more detailed information just keep reading below and watch the video
I suffered immense phantom limb pains days after my amputation. Nerve pain sensations included: shooting, throbbing, burning, hyper sensitivity, clenched toes, muscle pain and everything in between. Pain was so intense that at times, without any warning, I would feel a burst of pain that would shoot down my leg to my ‘foot’ and have me jump right out of my skin.
At the beginning I felt as if my foot was still there. What a mind boggling conundrum! How can that be? I see with my own eyes that there’s no foot and yet I ‘FEEL’ it. This is the bizarre experience many amputees report on, and until recently had no treatment to deal with it nor any understanding of what causes it.
A few years ago, Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, uncovered answers to the deep and quirky ways of how our human brain function. He developed a detailed map representing different parts of our brain and how they relate to phantom pain. His pioneering research shed new light on the deep architecture of the brain. His work in the area of phantom pains is extraordinary and instead of me introducing it I highly recommend you watch his TedTalk (2,169,000 views can’t be wrong so watch it – it’s worth every minute). Discussion about Phantom limb pain starts at minute 9:30.
His worked inspired me to dive deeply into brain function research and discover this amazing modality.
I also encourage you to watch this documentary where you'll see his actual discovery of Mirror Therapy while working with and amputee.
And if you really wish to dive deep into his amazing research read his book:
Phantoms in the rain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind.
Now back to my story,
I live in Vancouver Canada and was fortunate enough to be admitted to our local rehabilitation centre: GF Strong. To my utter delight I found out that Linda McLaren, BSR (PT), the main rehab physiotherapist had begun to implement Mirror Therapy 2 years ago!
Linda is a living legend here and helped 100s of amputees gain their mobility through though love, hard work and good humour. I work with her each day for 3 hours and learn an ocean of knowledge about rehabilitation and what it takes to overcome obstacles and daily challenges most of us don't even think about.
She is an angle and I'm grateful to have her on side!
We had 10 sessions all together (Linda follows a structured protocol that was devised by Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. several years ago) and as I mentioned before – all of my related phantom pains are GONE!!!
Now here's a disclaimer I want to make. Mirror Therapy is not a silver bullet solution to all phantom limb pain symptoms, and not all results are the same.
In my particular situation, I had sustained severe nerve and artery injury to my ankle 2.5 years ago. Pain patterns were reinforced over this period of time and I almost 'got accustomed' to this new pain, and referred to it as normal.
However, since this was an elected amputation I made a choice to learn and understand how my mind work and therefor was able to prepare for Mirror Therapy in what I consider to be a unique way.
I'll explain what I mean: Mirror Therapy, in my mind (ha ha) has a lot to do with how open 'minded' the penitent is to allow it to work. One must disengage his analytical, reasoning mind and abandon the need to understand and figure out the process. From my personal experience, once you just allow the process to happen and 'flow' with it, real progress can happen.
It's a pure mind game, how can it be that a person who lost a limb will look in a mirror and sense it again as if it's there? doen't make sense right? well it doesn't and I think this is the secret to Mirror Therapy success.
The human brain is the most complex living organ known to men, we barely understand 10% of it's capabilities and function and therefor in order for one to engage in a therapeutic process like this, (s)he must let go. Energy and vibration are barley understood by us but they play a major roll in how our world function and how information is transfered. I stress this point for one reason: if one doen't allow this process to take place, results will be diminished substantially.
There's no room for "I need to understand this" attitude.
7 weeks after my surgery I'm happy to report that I'm off all medications!!! (Hydromorphone and Gabapentin) and hope I will not need any of them in the future. Yes I do feel pain and hypersensitivity at times - after all my foot was chopped off, but this is minor compared to where I was 3 weeks ago. I experience uneasy withdrawal symptoms from these medications but will swap that any day with being sedated, unclear, sleepy and basically numb. Yes I'm grateful to have used them when needed but at the same time grateful to have so much success with Mirror Therapy and now be in a position where I don't need any of them.
I hope my message will reach those who haven't thought or knew about Mirror Therapy - may my personal experience inspire you to at least give it a chance!
I you are interested in instructions on how to perform Mirror Therapy please ask for it in the comments and I’ll email you directly.
Your ever well wisher,