Visual Image Therapy for a Broken Wrist
Briefly, visual image therapy was first developed by neuroscientist, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran for people suffering from phantom limb pain and/or paralysis. This researcher speculated that since the phantom pain/.paralysis was a construct of the brain, if the person was able to see the limb as whole and complete and with the capacity to move effortlessly, the brain would change its “opinion” of the situation and the pain/paralysis could be alleviated. In order to achieve this he constructed a mirror box which allowed the patient to see a reflection of the remaining limb in a mirror that was positioned in such a way that it looked like it was the missing limb; as the person moved the existing limb the brain was seeing it as if it were the phantom limb. Since it moved and there was no pain, the brain was slowly able to let go of its original image of the pain/paralysis construct.
So how does Ramachandran’s research apply to me? Up to now I have been doing Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons that have kept my shoulder and elbow moving well and have continued to avoid developing any chronic pain. However, at this point I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose my ability to flex and extend my wrist which was of course impossible with the constraint of the cast. I began to experiment with using my imagination to try to feel those two movements; however, I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner and no matter how hard I tried to feel the flexing and extending I still was very aware of the cast inhibiting all movement. Fortunately I knew about Ramachandran’s work and had a small mirror handy that would suit my purpose quite nicely. I’ve made a short video so that you can see what I did.