Investigators at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) seek patients with phantom pain due to upper limb amputation to participate in a study. Phantom pain refers to the sensation of pain felt by patients who have had a limb amputated. The treatment of phantom pain is often disappointing and is unable to provide adequate relief to patients. The area of the brain involved is called the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and is found on the opposite side of the amputated limb.
This study will use low frequency (1 Hz) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to decrease the excitability of the PPC on the opposite side of the amputated limb. Researchers believe that if they can decrease activity in the PPC they may be able to reduce phantom pain.
Eligible patients must be between 18 and 65 years of age, and have had amputation and phantom pain for at least 12 months (pain should be moderate and present at least 8 hours per day, or severe, lasting at least 2 hours per day).
Patients with previous stroke or brain lesions, severe depression, poor motivational capacity, serious cognitive deficits, severe uncontrolled medical problems, a history of seizures or other neurological disorders, severe coronary disease, metal in the cranium except mouth, intracardiac lines, increased intracranial pressure as evaluated by clinical means, and cardiac pacemakers, and those on neuroleptic medications or pregnant, are not eligible to participate.
The study will take place at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. All study-related expenses will be paid by the NIH.
For more information, physicians should send a referral letter and a copy of the patient's hospital medical records to Shashi Ravindran, R.N., M.P.H., Clinical Research Coordinator, Human Cortical Physiology Section, NINDS, NIH, Building 10, Room 5C40, 10 Center Drive MSC 1430, Bethesda, MD 20892-1430; telephone: 301-402-1916; fax: 301-480-2286.