Researchers at the Centre for Pain Research and the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath are currently seeking volunteers suffering CRPS for a UK-based, randomised, controlled trial, investigating a potential non-drug treatment for the condition, known as sensorimotor training.
The theory behind the research is that the physical symptoms of CRPS, including pain, are the result of brain signalling errors regarding the shape and location of the part of the body where the CRPS has manifested. If that is correct, the idea is that it may be possible to treat CRPS by focusing on ways to restore normal body perception and attention. As we have considered in an earlier article, the same approach has already proved effective at improving attention issues in people who have suffered strokes. Preliminary results in people suffering CRPS have also been encouraging.
Who is eligible?
The researchers are looking for people between the ages of 18 and 80, who have been suffering CRPS in one arm only for a period of at least three months.
What does the trial involve?
Volunteers will be allocated randomly to participate in either:
- treatment involving sensorimotor training; or
- a control (dummy) treatment programme.
Both will take place in the participant’s home over a two week period. Those allocated to the control programme will subsequently have the opportunity to undergo sensorimotor training.
Participants on both programmes will be provided with a pair of goggles which distorts their vision, albeit in a different way depending upon whether they are on the sensorimotor or control programme. Whilst wearing the goggles, all participants will perform simple movements with the affected limb. Their standard treatment regime will remain unaffected whilst they participate in the programme. Assessments with researchers will take place on four occasions over an eleven week period; twice before and twice after the two week period of treatment. Participants will be asked to complete questionnaires and computer-based tasks as well as undergoing physical assessments.
How to apply
The trial is already underway and the end date for recruitment is 30th September 2018. Contact details are available here.
Everything to gain
Of course, there can be no guarantee of an improvement in symptoms. However, as this is a non-invasive, non-drug trial, those suffering with CRPS who satisfy the eligibility criteria would seem to have little to lose and potentially everything to gain from participation.
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About the author
Leading Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) solicitor Richard Lowes co-founded the first legal team in the UK specialising in representing people suffering CRPS and other debilitating chronic pain conditions. Richard is a popular speaker on the subject of chronic pain in litigation and remains an inveterate blogger.