The healing power of imagination
Doctors working with burn patients at Adelaide’s Neuro Orthopaedic Institute (NOI) use images of moving body parts and a mirror box to stimulate certain parts of the brain. An injured hand is placed in a box out of sight behind a mirror, and the healthy hand is moved and reflected in the mirror.
“The brain thinks both [hands] are moving and it changes the swelling and the healing [in the injured hand],” says Fiona Wood, a British born plastic surgeon, director of the Royal Perth Hospital’s burns unit.
She wants to take the technique a step further, using an avatar of the person on a computer, to see if giving a patient’s brain the image of their working, undamaged body parts will speed up the healing process.
“I sort of fancifully say we can think ourselves whole. We need to understand how visualization impacts healing.”
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