Fact and Fiction: a Clarification of Phantom Limb Phenomena

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Phantom limbs are widely recognised but poorly understood phenomena. Most health professionals dealing with amputees are aware that, post-amputation, some amputees may feel that at least part of their amputated limb is still there. However, there are inconsistencies in the literature regarding the variety, complexity, prevalence and impact of the phenomena. In an attempt to address this problem, a systematic descriptive survey was carried out on a clinic population of upper limb amputees.

The results revealed that 73 of the 76 participants who took part in the study had experienced phantoms. Sixty-six were still experiencing phantoms, of whom 44 stated that their phantoms were painful. It was also found that the amputees claimed that they were provided with very little information about the phenomena and demonstrated a reluctance to discuss their experiences with others apart from their close families.

Based on the findings of the survey, this paper discusses the main characteristics of phantom limb phenomena and separates fact from fiction in order to clarify therapists' understanding of the phenomena.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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