What Is Mirror Therapy?

What Is Mirror Therapy?

Wednesday, 01 February 2023 13:20

Amputation refers to the removal of a body part due to injury, disease, or congenital conditions. The most common causes of amputations in the US are vascular disease, cancer, and trauma. In recent years, the number of amputations due to diabetes has increased significantly. 

According to the Amputee Coalition, there are over 2 million people living with limb loss in the US. The most common sites for amputation are the lower limb, followed by the upper limb, and transtibial amputation being the most common. 

Prosthetic devices and rehabilitation services are available to help amputees regain mobility and independence. However, access to these resources can be limited by factors such as cost and availability. It is important to learn as much as you can about what you’ll be facing and your options after surgery. 

In this article, we’re discussing amputations, phantom limb pain, and mirror therapy. 

What to Expect After an Amputation

After an amputation, a person can expect to experience a range of physical and emotional challenges. The following are some of the common experiences after an amputation:

  • Pain: There may be pain at the amputation site and phantom limb pain, which is the sensation of pain in the missing limb.
  • Stiffness: The residual limb may become stiff, and the muscles may weaken, which can affect mobility.
  • Swelling: Swelling in the residual limb is common and can be managed with elevation and compression.
  • Wound healing: The amputation site may take several weeks or months to fully heal.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy is usually recommended to help improve strength, flexibility, and mobility.
  • Emotional adjustment: Adjusting to the loss of a limb can be difficult and may cause feelings of grief, depression, and anxiety. Talking to a mental health professional can be helpful.
  • Prosthetic fitting: A prosthetic device may be fitted several weeks after the amputation, depending on the healing process.
  • Learning to use a prosthetic device: Using a prosthetic device takes time and practice. Physical therapy and training with a prosthetist can help to improve mobility and independence.

It's important to keep in mind that recovery can be a long and challenging process, but with the right support and care, many people are able to regain their mobility and independence.

How Do You Recover From an Amputation?

Recovering from an amputation can be a long and challenging process, but with proper support and care, many people are able to regain their mobility and independence. The following steps can help with the recovery process:

  • Pain management: Pain management techniques, such as medication, nerve blocks, and physical therapy, can help to alleviate pain and improve quality of life.
  • Psychological support: Many people experience feelings of grief, depression, and anxiety following an amputation. Talking to a mental health professional can help to cope with these emotions.
  • Assistive devices: Other assistive devices, such as crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs, can help with mobility and independence.
  • Adaptive activities: Engaging in adaptive activities, such as sports, hobbies, and leisure activities, can help to improve physical and emotional well-being.
  • Support groups: Joining a support group can provide a supportive community and help to connect with others who have experienced similar challenges.
  • Prosthetic devices: A prosthetic limb can help to restore mobility and independence. The choice of device will depend on the individual's needs and the type of amputation.

One of the challenges you may find challenging to manage is phantom limb pain.

What Is Phantom Limb Pain?

Phantom limb pain is a type of pain experienced by amputees in which they feel sensations (including pain) in their missing limb. This occurs because the brain continues to receive signals from the nerves that once controlled the now-absent limb. The underlying cause is not well understood, but it is thought to involve changes in the way the brain processes sensory information.

There are several ways to deal with phantom limb pain. One method that helps people experience results is mirror therapy.

How Mirror Therapy Helps People With Limb Loss Manage Pain

Mirror therapy is a pain management technique used to treat phantom limb pain in amputees. It involves the use of a mirror to create an optical illusion that the missing limb is still present. 

The person stands in front of a mirror, places the good limb behind the mirror, and then moves the reflected "image" of the good limb as if it were the missing limb. This tricks the brain into thinking that the missing limb is still there, which can help reduce phantom limb pain.

Mirror therapy is thought to work by re-educating the brain and reducing the amount of sensory information it receives from the phantom limb. It is a non-invasive and drug-free approach that can be done in the comfort of one's own home. While mirror therapy may not work for everyone, many amputees report significant pain relief after using the technique.

What to Remember When Exploring Physical Therapy

It's important to work closely with a healthcare team, including a physician, physical therapist, and prosthetist, to determine the best recovery plan for you. If you’re in search of the highest quality prosthetic devices and artificial limbs, Orthopedic Appliance Company is here to help. Contact us for more information about custom artificial limbs!