Curse of the phantom limb.
About this work
Phantom limb is experienced by over 80% of amputees, sometimes with great pain. Dr. Peter Halligan (neuropsychologist), Prof. Ramachandran (neuroscientist) and Prof. Melzack (psychologist, McGill University, Montreal) give accounts of their research into this condition and their efforts to alleviate it. The solution depends on a better understanding of the neural network and in pinpointing what is happening in the brain when phantom pain is experienced. Experiments with patients are shown involving the use of a mirror to correct the patient's perception of body image, and brain surgery to implant an electrode to cancel out the phantom pain. The programme includes clips of 1930s brain surgery by US neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield who constructed a brain map identifying the sites connected to sensation in various parts of the body. It concludes with information about Alice in Wonderland syndrome, a rare condition experienced by some migraine sufferers in which the body is perceived as shrinking while the hands seem to become enormous. This may be due to disruption to the brain's blood supply.