Skip to main content
Article
Illusory touch temporarily improves sensation in areas of chronic numbness: a brief communication
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair (2014)
  • Benedict Wand, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Samantha Stephens, Royal Perth Hospital
  • Effie Mangharam, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Pamela George, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Max Bulsara, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Neil E O'Connell, Brunel University
  • G Lorimer Moseley, University of South Australia
Abstract

Background. Creating the visual illusion of touch can improve tactile perception in healthy subjects. Objective. We were

interested in seeing if creating the illusion of touch in an insensate area could improve sensation in that area. Methods.
Fourteen people with chronic numbness participated in a randomized crossover experiment. The 4 conditions were the
following: (a) stimulation over the unaffected limb with mirror visual feedback (experimental condition), (b) stimulation

over the affected limb with mirror visual feedback, (c) stimulation over the unaffected limb without mirror visual feedback,

and (d) stimulation over the affected limb without mirror visual feedback. Participants were assessed before and after each

condition using the Ten-Test and mechanical detection thresholds. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models. Result.
Only the experimental condition produced a change in the Ten-Test (mean difference = −1.1; 95% confidence interval =
−1.8 to −0.4; P = .003), corresponding to a 24% improvement in sensation. No differences were observed for any condition

in mechanical detection thresholds. Conclusion. Creating the illusion of touch may improve sensory function in areas of
chronic numbness. This preliminary finding adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of techniques thatdirectly target cortical function in people with peripheral nerve injury.
Disciplines
Publication Date
2014
DOI
10.1177/1545968314524827
Citation Information
Wand, B., Stephens, S., Mangharam, E., George, P., Bulsara, M., O'Connell, N., and Moseley, G. (2014). Illusory touch temporarily improves sensation in areas of chronic numbness: a brief communication. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 28(8), 797-799. DOI: 10.1177/1545968314524827