The analysis included 11 people who experienced phantom limb pain. The participants were 48.5 years of age, ± 13.2 years, with lower-limb amputations (seven transtibial) of various causes (nine medical). Assessments included the Prosthesis Evaluation Questionnaire, peripheral sensation measures (light touch, temperature, vibration, two-point discrimination), and cognition measures (laterality recognition, trail making, clock drawing).
According to the results, phantom limb pain was related to temperature and light touch sensation measures, but two-point discrimination was not associated with phantom limb pain, which the researchers said was consistent with past research. Laterality recognition was associated with phantom limb pain per prior research. The association of phantom limb pain with the Trail Making Test, a neuropsychological assessment that involves visual scanning and working memory, suggested that the test may be an additional cognition measure useful in future clinical research to document the phantom limb pain experience.
More severe symptoms of phantom limb pain were associated with impaired peripheral sensation and poorer cognition. Residual limb pain was not correlated with cognition measures.
The study’s authors suggested that clinicians without functional MRI access could benefit from clinical measures related to PLP to assess clinical presentations.
The study, “Relationships Among Phantom Limb Pain, Peripheral Sensations, and Cognition in People with Lower-Limb Loss,” was published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics.