Bodily sensory inputs and anomalous bodily experiences in complex regional pain syndrome: evaluation of the potential effects of sound feedback

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Neuroscientific studies have shown that human's mental body representations are not fixed but are constantly updated through sensory feedback, including sound feedback. This suggests potential new therapeutic sensory approaches for patients experiencing body-perception disturbances (BPD). BPD can occur in association with chronic pain, for example in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). BPD often impacts on emotional, social, and motor functioning. Here we present the results from a proof-of-principle pilot study investigating the potential value of using sound feedback for altering BPD and its related emotional state and motor behavior in those with CRPS. We build on previous findings that real-time alteration of the sounds produced by walking can alter healthy people's perception of their own body size, while also resulting in more active gait patterns and a more positive emotional state. In the present study we quantified the emotional state, BPD, pain levels and gait of twelve people with CRPS Type 1, who were exposed to real-time alteration of their walking sounds. Results confirm previous reports of the complexity of the BPD linked to CRPS, as participants could be classified into four BPD subgroups according to how they mentally visualize their body. Further, results suggest that sound feedback may affect the perceived size of the CRPS affected limb and the pain experienced, but that the effects may differ according to the type of BPD. Sound feedback affected CRPS descriptors and other bodily feelings and emotions including feelings of emotional dominance, limb detachment, position awareness, attention and negative feelings toward the limb. Gait also varied with sound feedback, affecting the foot contact time with the ground in a way consistent with experienced changes in body weight. Although, findings from this small pilot study should be interpreted with caution, they suggest potential applications for regenerating BDP and its related bodily feelings in a clinical setting for patients with chronic pain and BPD.
Body perception, Body representation, Anomalous bodily experiences, Complex regional pain syndrome, Action sounds, Body-related sensory inputs, Multisensory interaction, Technologies for self-management
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Tajadura‐Jiménez, A., Cohen, H., & Bianchi-Berthouze, N. (2017). Bodily sensory inputs and anomalous bodily experiences in complex regional pain syndrome: Evaluation of the potential effects of sound feedback. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11:379.