A Proper Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom Limb Pain affects 8 million amputees worldwide, with 2.5 millon of 
these suffering a severe form of this agonising pain.
Despite the number of sufferers, funding to advance medical research in phantom 
limb pain is extremely limited, leaving them with no satisfying treatment. 

What is Phantom Limb Pain 

Phantom Limb Pain is an agonising and ongoing pain for as many as 8 million 
amputees worldwide – affecting patients who have lost a limb or part of the 
body to diabetes, cancer, infections, wars, accidents and electrocutions. 
A nervous system disorder, symptoms of Phantom Limb Pain can include painful 
sensations of stabbing and electric shocks in the area where the limb was lost.
Even when limbs are replaced by prosthetics, many continue to suffer from the pain because the 
brain hasn’t accepted either the loss of the old and/or the replaced limb.

  Pioneering research led by Professor Ali Mousavi at 
  Brunel University in the UK, proposes to advance 
  virtual reality based solutions that will deliver 
  effective, personalised and accessible treatment for 
Prof Ali Mousavi needs your support to help advance 
this research to change amputees’ lives forever. This 
is why he asked we help him to fundraise. 
Together you are putting research for a better treatment 
for phantom limb pain on the agenda.


The mirror therapy (link to Ramachandran’s research and disadvantages and advantages) relieves pain by tricking the brain to believe its lost limb is there, he didn’t lose it.  

Virtual Reality technology, commonly associated with the games and entertainment industry is used to improve the mirror therapy but they take a “one size fits all” approach. Our brains and limbs are all different and this does not work for all.

Prof Mousavi proposes to improve the trick first by creating personalised virtual limbs that will look exactly like the patient’s own, 3D and hyper-real. The software won’t need a limb to mirror so the treatment will work for double amputees as well.

The virtual limb will be compatible with games, allowing for immersion in the experience, improving further the pain relief.

The researchers will develop the software to be usable at home with affordable headsets, so that sufferers can use the treatment at every moment. 

Finally, it is Prof Mousavi wish that every patient will have access to the treatment, so he will make the software available for free online.

Patients with phantom limb pain will at last have access to an optimal treatment.  Help make this solution available and accessible to all

For Amputees


Many have researched the problem, looking for a solution. 
Prof Vilayanur Ramachandran' mirror therapy has represented a significant step 
forward. But not everyone benefits, be it because of a double amputation or the 
difficulty to give in to the illusion. 
It is important therefore to pursue the research to ensure all patients have 
access to an effective treatment. Advances in technology have meant that we can now 
bring years of research to the next step: an effective treatment for the millions 
of sufferers like you. 
Did you ever wonder why there are still no proper treatments for phantom limb pain?
A severe lack of funding has held back research for more effective treatments. People 
with other conditions such as breast cancer or prostate cancer have taken initiatives 
to raise funding for medical research.
With Crowdacure you can do the same and put Phantom Limb Pain on the Agenda. 
Even better, this crowdfunding campaign, will avoid a commercial partnership that would 
skyroket the costs.

Be Part of The Solution, put Phantom Limb Pain treatment on the Agenda. 


  1.   Donate to help advance the research process
  2.   Receive transparent, simple to understand information on
    1. how the budget is used 
    2. what is the research and
    3. regular communication on how it is progressing. 
  3.   Be part of a unique and informed community caring for a solution for phantom limb pain, and helps set the agenda for advancing medical research in a way never possible previously

The Solution

VR and Motion Sensor technology to ease amputee pain

Support and advance underfunded health tech research. 

Contribute to cure the 8 million people with Phantom Limb Pain by supporting

the advancement of VR technology and Game Apps customised for each

individual patients.

Receive rare insight into clinical trials and the medical research process to

understand how users engage with Immersion Tech and Games from a

neurological and brain plasticity perspective.

Immersion technology (AR and VR)  and game play) are not new concepts for treating neurological conditions like Phantom Limb Pain. It has been used for the last decade, based on the mirror therapy concept pioneered by Dr VS Ramachandran.

The concept: Patients are placed in an immersive or semi immersive environment where they can see a virtual version of their lost limb so that this vision turns off or lowers the pain levels experienced.

Previously, VR and AR technology has used a “one size fits all” approach. The richness or intensity of the immersion level or user engagement was not seen as a defining factor in the success of the treatment. Prof Mousavi: “Our brains and limbs are all different. And in fact, to date, the available treatment using generic VR and AR solutions and games, have been more focused on and therefore effective for upper body amputees as opposed to lower body limbs amputated – which are much more complex in terms of replicating individual movements and quirks.”

“In addition to this, age and gender also affect results as patients engage with types of game content and design in different ways”.

“The technology available today, and the types of games developers can create are more varied and sophisticated. So we are now proposing research to customise the user engagement experience by bringing the games into the patient experience. The current premise of VR, is making the patient fit into the gaming environment.”. The research proposes to develop software to create customized limbs in an immersive environment that will look exactly like the patient’s own – so the brain believes the limb is there and hence minimize and reduce pain.

“Once the brain accepts this, and then immerse in engaging games and exercises it will start reprogramming itself to reprocess the confusing messages it gets from the periphery of the body. We will also make sure the software is usable at home with affordable headsets.”

Budget and Timelines



Research for a new treatment for Phantom Limb Pain

SIMULATOR software (Research and development) :


ANIMATOR software (Research and development of an event based adaptable motion prediction simulator):






Project Management:  


Total budget:


MINI GOAL: £66,965


TIMELINES: Research for a new treatment for Phantom Limb Pain

The development of the SIMULATOR & ANIMATOR software (event based adaptable motion prediction simulator).

Start: Beginning of project
End: Month 18

The design and development of the central data engineering and control unit.
Start: Month 10
End: Month 27

Testing and validation of the treatment suite (TS) in a clinical environment.
Start: Month 24
End: Month 30

Peer Review Outcome

Results of Peer Review



Approved by 3 medical reviewers out of 3
Approved by 2 engineering reviewers out of 2


What does the medical question relate to?

The medical question relates to available treatments, which:
●Do not work for many patients
●Do not cover all aspects of disease
●Are associated with issues of tolerance and safety
●Are too expensive
●Are not widely accessible for reasons of complexity
In addition, the medical question addresses the mechanism of disease that is not yet fully understood.
The medical question has been described as appropriate, very useful, and potentially significantly improving the quality of life of patients.


Research design

Exploratory; research & development of prototype


Is there other research activity on this matter?

At present there are no cost effective, highly customised virtual reality treatment for treating Phantom Limb Pain.



Yes. The project is hard to fund because phantom limb pain is a relatively limited population and is not a priority in research funding in the field of amputees management. The multi-disciplinary nature of the project also makes funding more difficult.

reapply (1)

Did this project previously apply to other sources of funding



Does the institution hosting the research charge overhead for this project?


Your Opportunity to Support Important and Relevant research

–       Treat Phantom Limb Pain using advances in technology

–       An Adaptive System based on a Motion Sensor technology and a Human Bionic Simulator:

First create the Adaptive System then modify it for individual patients using 
learning algorithms to match the patient’s profile exactly

–       Make the build Open Source and Free for game developers to access and create customised games

–       Ultimately create a VR Rehabilitation and Pain Management environment for amputees and 
potentially other neurological disease sufferers.  This could range from entertainment based games 
to functional training games or even multiplayer virtual community environments for patients 
to “meet, learn, play and share”.

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