“Twice a day, ten minutes per session, for five weeks and the phantom pain will go away” – Stephen Sumner’s recipe for mirror therapy.
This story is of Stephen Sumner who lost his left leg that had been amputated six inches above the knee and his phantom pain. Stephen used the mirror for two weeks, then stopped because the pain had not returned. About a year and a half later, he felt the pain again, and this time he stayed the course for the full five weeks. He hasn’t had phantom pain for over four years. “It’s gone now,” he says. “It’s gone because I treated myself with a mirror.”
Stephen is now on a mission to alleviate pain of people suffering from Phantom pain using mirrors. He meets people with amputation, learns about their story and shares his too. He gives a mirror to people with phantom limb pain, teaches them the use of it and thereby alleviates their pain. He is “Mirror Man”; a mirror therapist who first targetted Cambodia, place where landmines and unexploded ordnance killed around 20,000 people and injured 44,000 more between 1979 and 2011.
Stephen has travelled around Asia with mirrors on the back of his bicycle to help many amputees suffering from phantom pain. Stephen offers a simplified explanation of the brain reorganisation theory. Pointing to his head, he says, “You have a commander here that controls the body. The commander has a map of the whole body. When the map doesn’t match the body, the commander panics and you feel pain. This mirror is to trick the commander into thinking the leg still exists, so he stops panicking and the pain goes away.”
Mirror therapy is a well know techniques used by therapists all over the world. Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) offers a novel three stage synaptic exercise process for neuropathic pain involving left/right discrimination, imagined movements and mirror therapy. With patience, persistence and often lots of hard work, GMI gives new hope for treatment outcomes.
The “Mirror Man” is dedicated towards helping people to overcome from phantom pain using mirrors, read his full story.