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transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for the treatment and investigation of Phantom Limb Pain (PLP)

By Kirstin Ahmed

Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a complex medical condition that is often difficult to treat, and thus can become detrimental to patients’ quality of life. No standardized clinical treatments exist and there is no conclusive understanding of the underlying mechanisms causing it. Noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) has been used to find correlations between changes in brain activity and various brain conditions, including neurological disease, mental illnesses, and brain disorders. Studies have also shown that NIBS can be effective in alleviating pain. Here, we examined the literature on a particular type of NIBS, known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and its application to the treatment of PLP.We first discuss the current hypotheses on theworkingmechanism of tDCS and then we examine published evidence of its efficacy to treat PLP. We conclude this article by discussing how tDCS alone, and in combination with brain imaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imagining, could be applied to further investigate the mechanisms underlyingPLP.