Where is my arm? Investigating the link between complex regional pain syndrome and poor localisation of the affected limb.

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From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,653 words
Lexile Measure: 1480L

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Abstract :

Background Anecdotally, people living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) often report difficulties in localising their own affected limb when it is out of view. Experimental attempts to investigate this report have used explicit tasks and yielded varied results. Methods Here we used a limb localisation task that interrogates implicit mechanisms because we first induce a compelling illusion called the Disappearing Hand Trick (DHT). In the DHT, participants judge their hands to be close together when, in fact, they are far apart. Sixteen volunteers with unilateral upper limb CRPS (mean age 39 ± 12 years, four males), 15 volunteers with non-CRPS persistent hand pain ('pain controls'; mean age 58 ± 13 years, two males) and 29 pain-free volunteers ('pain-free controls'; mean age 36 ± 19 years, 10 males) performed a hand-localisation task after each of three conditions: the DHT illusion and two control conditions in which no illusion was performed. The conditions were repeated twice (one for each hand). We hypothesised that (1) participants with CRPS would perform worse at hand self-localisation than both the control samples; (2) participants with non-CRPS persistent hand pain would perform worse than pain-free controls; (3) participants in both persistent pain groups would perform worse with their affected hand than with their unaffected hand. Results Our first two hypotheses were not supported. Our third hypothesis was supported -when visually and proprioceptively encoded positions of the hands were incongruent (i.e. after the DHT), relocalisation performance was worse with the affected hand than it was with the unaffected hand. The similar results in hand localisation in the control and pain groups might suggest that, when implicit processes are required, people with CRPS' ability to localise their limb is preserved.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A672662452