Investigation of a novel Sensory discrimination training device for the management of phantom limb pain

Teesside University

Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) is defined as pain experienced in a limb that has been amputated. It is a long-term condition that affects over 75% of amputees. PLP is persistent and often debilitating, impacting amputees' quality of life and ability to work. Whilst pharmaceutical management is the most common treatment, it has limited effectiveness and comes with many side effects.

PLP is associated with a misalignment between the patient’s mental blueprint of the limb and the actual physical limb. Addressing this misalignment could help reduce the pain. Initial research suggests clinician led delivery of Sensory Discrimination Training (SDT) could reduce PLP by redrawing the mental blueprint via neuroplasticity, but it is prohibitively resource intensive. Current delivery of SDT can require daily administration for up to 4 weeks and it is not a feasible scalable solution in its current form.

Sarah’s project will investigate the efficacy of a new, software led self-management medical device which can deliver SDT without the need for a clinician. Sarah’s project seeks, though the undertaking of a randomised control trial, to investigate the efficacy of the device to deliver SDT, allowing for self-administration following minimal training. If effective, it would enable patients to self-manage their PLP, creating a viable alternative to the current reliance on pharmacological treatments.


After a successful career in the hospitality industry, Sarah took a career break in 2004 to look after her son. She embarked on a career change in 2015 when she began her physiotherapy degree. She graduated with a first-class degree from Teesside University, subsequently taking a role as a KTP Associate where she developed a prototype of her SDT device in collaboration with 2PD Ltd. and Teesside University.