Phantom perceptions are an intriguing mystery that captured and still captures the attention of many people: those who are amputated, their relatives, healthcare providers, and even the public. Indeed, it is a mystery: How is it possible to feel sensations and/or motions in a limb or a body part that has obviously been surgically removed? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. Phantom sensations and especially phantom limb pain remain medical nightmares. Moreover, we can currently not explain why phantom sensations occur in some amputees but do not in others. In the present chapter, we will first report on locations, characteristics, and descriptions of phantom sensations. We then will report on patho-physiological mechanisms that possibly might lead to phantom sensations. Finally, therapeutic options and possible future directions of research and treatment will be given.


Phantom Limb Phantom Limb Pain Residual Limb Phantom Pain Pain Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Selected readings

  1. Sherman RA (1997) Phantom pain, New York: PlenumGoogle Scholar
  2. Flor H, Nikolajsen L, Staehelin Jensen T (2006) Phantom limb pain: a case of maladaptive CNS plasticity? Nat Rev Neurosci 7: 873–881PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kuiken TA, Marasco PD, Lock BA, Harden RN, Dewald JPA (2007) Redirection of cutaneous sensation from the hand to the chest skin of human amputees with targeted reinnervation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104: 20061–20066PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Weiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Clinical PsychologyFriedrich-Schiller-University JenaJenaGermany

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