Researchers at Teesside University, Middlesbrough, England, are developing a sensory discrimination training device that can be self-administered by patients to help overcome phantom limb pain. The university has entered into a partnership with healthcare start-up 2PD to bring a device to market.

One treatment for phantom limb pain is sensory discrimination training whereby patients receive stimuli to various parts of their body from electrodes and must discriminate where the sensations are coming from. This has been shown to help the brain rewire its map of the amputated limb, which is associated with a reduction in the phantom pain. However, it can be a lengthy and costly process involving several sessions administered by medical or rehabilitation professionals.

The university and 2PD have entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a collaboration between a university and a company in the United Kingdom (UK) to help businesses embed innovations and improve productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology, and skills being generated in UK universities.

The Teesside University team and inventors Denis Martin, DPhil, a professor of rehabilitation and director of the Centre for Rehabilitation Sciences; and Cormac Ryan, PhD, a senior lecturer in physiotherapy, will carry out clinical evaluations and trials on the patent applied for the device.

“Sensory discrimination training can be very effective at realigning the brain’s blueprint of the body,” said Ryan. “However, the amount of clinical time that it takes up makes it a huge barrier to treatment. By developing something that can be self-administered we can make it a much more feasible proposition.”

This story was adapted from materials provided by Teesside University.