Illusions of body normality in amputees and paraplegic patients
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2001 Oct;157(10):1237-43.
[Illusions of body normality in amputees and paraplegic patients].
[Article in French]
André JM1, Paysant J, Martinet N, Beis JM, Le Chapelain L.
Institut Régional de Réadaptation, 35, rue Lionnois, 54042 Nancy, France. firstname.lastname@example.org
Phantom limbs in amputees, or body illusion in hemiplegics, have been the subject of wide ranging descriptions. The detected abnormalities involve morphological, postural and/or kinetic features.
The aim of this prospective study carried out in 25 amputees and 10 adult paraplegics was to describe the typology of these perceptions. Data were collected from free and semi-directive investigations before and after caloric vestibular stimulation.
Amputees and paraplegics perceived normal, deformed and painful body phantom segments, reffered perceptions and "normal limbs" which took on the request posture considering the general body position (illusion of body normality).
This perception corresponds to an image of the body, such as it should be and not such as it is. In amputees, the limb follows the movements of the prothesis. These perceptions conform quite well reality so that the loss of the paralyzed limb is not perceived as a missing limb.
This illusion of body normality should be distinguished from the normal phantom limb, characterized by a stronger perception of the lost limb compared with the other. In both amputees and paraplegics, vestibular stimulation can generate or modify phantoms limbs or body illusion and can abolish painful phantom limbs.
The neuromatrix, which rebuilds body representations, could get its information from reorganized cortical areas (instantaneous body image), autobiographical engrams (painful phantoms limbs), or innate engrams (identity body schema) that, via congruence mechanisms, could be identified as a somatic reference, particularly for motor programming. This interpretation is compatible with current knowledge and suggests how amputees can easily use a prothesis.