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Phantom limb research

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Research participation

Brain

Who can take part in this research?

Any adult (aged over 18) who has an amputated limb or a congenital limb deficiency. We are interested in both people with and without phantom limb sensations. We are primarily interested in people based in the UK and especially in Brighton region.

How do I take part in research?

If you have a limb amputation or congenital limb deficiency then we would be delighted to hear from you. In the first instance please fill in our questionnaire. You can email it back to us or put it in the post.

Please click HERE for a pdf version or HERE for a Word version

What is the purpose of the research?

The purpose of the research is to understand how the brain can produce phantom limb experiences. In order to address this question we will need to study people with amputations who both do and do not experience phantom limbs, and also normal bodied people. Studying phantom limb sensations is not only important for putting forward rehabilitation strategies (and pain management), but can also address basic scientific questions about how our brain produces bodily sensations (of movement and touch). Our working hypothesis is that phantom limb sensations reflect a principled (rather than random) reorganisation of brain circuits supporting movement and perception that were in operation prior to amputation. We can understand these normal circuits by looking at how they adapt to change.

What types of research methods are used?

Our experiments are based on standard methods in psychology involving the presentation of images on a computer screen and response time and accuracy measures (via voice onset or button press). Some sessions may involve a brief touch to the face or intact limb. We also employ methods of brain scanning, such as MRI and EEG, to reveal the underlying brain activity that causes phantom experiences. These are safe and commonly used methods both for clinical purposes and research. By filling out the questionnaire you are under no obligation to take part in any further research.

Who is conducting the research?

The researcher who is primarily conducting the research is Ms Viva Goller, a DPhil (PhD) student at the University of Sussex. Her CV can be browsed HERE. She is working under the supervision of Dr. Jamie Ward, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex, who has fourteen years of experience of research on related topics. His CV can be browsed HERE.

What will happen to my data?

Your personal details (name, address, etc.) will not be passed on to anybody else without first gaining your written consent. You will be referred to in our records and in any publications by your initials (or other code) in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998).

Will I be able to take part in further studies?

Depending on where you live and the answers in your questionnaire, we may invite you to take part in further studies but you are under no obligation to do so. We would give you detailed information about each and every study, and a separate consent form to sign for each study.

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