Could normal sensation return after years of complete loss?
Warning: medical specialty jargon ahead
Complications of diabetes
20 million Americans live with diabetes. About 1 in 4 will experience diabetic neuropathy. For millions, their neuropathy progresses to a loss of protective sensation in their feet. This impairment leads to a cascade of falls, injuries, wounds, external link to amputations, and early death.
Current interventions may help relieve pain, but are not intended to restore normal sensory or motor functions. There is little expectation that protective sensation could return with any intervention.
Rarely, energy-based therapies prompt the return of sensation. Without real-time recordings, such rare and unexpected events are easily dismissed.
PhotoMed’s Instant Verification System™ enables everyone to observe and replay events that were assumed to be rare or improbable. It turns out that the events may be common, but that there wasn’t a therapy for the problem.
Loss of sensation
Clips from PhotoMed’s real-time recordings demonstrate the what and the when events occurred. Perhaps now, neuroscientists might learn the why and how of the yet unknown mechanisms.
We use the term “pain” to include the experience of “ouchless” sensations. Impaired functions can be objectively measured, such as the loss of protective sensation.
“George” could NOT feel being touched in either foot after 40-years of diabetes. During his second visit, his wife bends his toes to confirm the return of sensation. (Clip = 43 seconds)
Link to video showing the correction of his perceived touch locations a few minutes before the above video.
+ More About George
“George” experienced diabetes and its complications for 42 years. He experienced a profound loss of sensation in his feet for 8 - 10 years. He arrived looking at his feet to maintain his balance. George volunteered to learn if PhotoMed’s therapy might relieve his back pain. George and his wife had not considered the possibility of his regaining sensation in his feet.
During his first visit, George’s back pain was partially relieved. Therapy was also applied to his left foot (only). He regained slight awareness of heavy pressure on his left foot.
One week later, George looked at the operator as he walked in. When asked, he reported that he hadn’t noticed much change in his feet. His wife suggested that he now walked more confidently. Von Frey monofilament testing found weak sensations at 19+ grams force. While an improvement, this level is not considered “protective” to prevent falls, etc.
During his second visit, George complied with the request to keep his feet still and to NOT look at his feet. The goal was to avoid cross-sensory perception during the testing. Therapy was applied to both of his feet.
Within 6 minutes of the first treatments, monofilament testing found significant sensation at 5+ grams force. Video clips show the importance of real-time recordings of unexpected events. These may be the first recordings of an event that we hope will become commonplace.
Phantom sensations from surgery, scars, amputations, or reconstructed skin
Our skin has an abundance of different sensors that provide what and where signals. Our perceptions depend on the fidelity and interpretation of those signals.
Pain-masking medications may block corrupted signals without restoring fidelity. Thus, masking pain may not relieve pain or perception problems.
If the signals are corrupted, we may feel pain, altered, or no sensations. For example, the experience of “phantom” sensations from a missing limb, scar, or reconstructed of skin. For most people, the brain figures out how to correct the perceptions to reduce pain. Could continuing perceptual errors account for post-surgical pain?
Brenda lost sensation in her right fingers after elbow surgery for pain. She volunteered in a study to learn if PhotoMed’s therapy might relieve the pain in her elbow that remained after surgery. The therapy relieved some pain her elbow, but not completely. No one expected her finger sensations to return any time soon.
Watch as Brenda tests her resumed sensations right after her therapy ended. (Clip = 10 seconds)
Restoring sensation does not treat the disease or disorder
Testing PhotoMed’s algorithm for seemingly disparate disorders yielded unexpected responses and outcomes. The abrupt “awakening” of numb fingers or toes sparks surprise for nearly everyone. Could the return of innate sensations break the cascade of falls, injuries, amputations and early death due to diabetes?
Prompting the return to a more normal state does NOT treat the disease, such as diabetes. Could the “awakening” of lost sensation work like taking your cold-numbed hand out of ice water?
Could a few photons, no brighter than in sunlight, provide a signal or catalyst to the body to prompt the “back-to-normal” function that continues after therapy ends?
Phantom pain - missing maps lead to experiencing pain
Neuroscientists report pain perceived in amputated limbs, called “phantom” pain. V.S. Ramachandran describes (1) his use of visual feedback in restoring brain functions.
For some patients, “mirror therapy” or virtual reality goggles can relieve phantom pain. It typically takes several-to-many visits to achieve lasting benefit. The therapies require the patient to intentionally participate with the hope that neuroplasticity might “rewire” their brain to relieve the “phantom” pain and abnormal sensations.
Could phantom pain account for the pain at scars, post-surgical pain, or phantom pain in reconstructed skin?
A matter of efficiency
PhotoMed’s Triple 2 Algorithm provides the practitioner with an efficient approach that could:
work passively without the patient’s intention or expectation
Prompt bilateral sensation lost to diabetes after treating only one side
Two visits are enough to learn if the therapy likely won’t work.
Could the return of normal function occur too quickly to be a neuroplastic event?
Want to find out? PhotoMed’s tools are available for rent or purchase.
These events are no longer rare. A gasp, flinch, or spontaneous remark frequently confirms that something unexpected happened. We thank William Conard, M.D. for his IRB study in Sacramento, California.
Link to Neuroscience page
(1) Beyaz S, Güler ÜÖ, Bağır GŞ. Factors affecting lifespan following below-knee amputation in diabetic patients. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2017;51(5):393–397. doi:10.1016/j.aott.2017.07.001
(2) V. S. Ramachandran, Eric L. Altschuler, The use of visual feedback, in particular mirror visual feedback, in restoring brain function, Brain, Volume 132, Issue 7, July 2009, Pages 1693–1710, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awp135