Is that training diary doing anything?

One really cool aspect of using a software program like Recognise, is that you can keep tabs on whether or not patients actually do what we ask them to do.  This is an important issue because any treatment that involves home exercises or training depends on people doing it!  Historically, clinicians have used a training or home exercise diary to … [Read more...]

Where is my back?

Chronic pain is associated with a loss of the normal capacity to know where your body is. Chronic pain is also associated with odd bodily feelings. To find out if people with chronic back pain had trouble 'feeling' their back, they were asked to draw on a piece of paper the outline of where they felt their back to be. This is a bit tricky to … [Read more...]

I got the word daft published in the British Medical Journal

Often, when you publish something in a reasonably posh journal, your mates write you a little email to say congratulations.  However, if you write a word like 'daft' in an article that is published in a posh journal like BMJ, it is not just your mates who say congratulations! I got about 40 emails from people I have never heard of over this one. … [Read more...]

Silencing brain cells – a step towards, or away from, curing chronic pain?

Here is a very cool experiment from Ed Boyden's lab at MIT: they have used a fungus (yes, you read that right - a fungus) to turn off neurons using a proton pump that is turned on by blue-green light.  Sure, the neurons were in a culture. Sure, they weren't human neurons. But this is seriously interesting because, together with the rapidly … [Read more...]

Further evidence to suggest we should learn something novel every decade

I remember sitting my folks down and sternly counselling them to make sure they learnt a completely novel skill once per decade, to ensure that their brain doesn't turn to mush.  There is plenty of evidence to support such advice (well, aside from the 'mush' bit), but here is a new finding that adds to that evidence, with a whole new level of … [Read more...]

Physiologically impossible movement of phantom limbs explained

Nature mentioned our recent PNAS paper in their research highlights Neurology: Impossible movements: Scientists can alter people's perception of their bodies by playing with their sensory input, for example by using trick mirrors or touch. Now Lorimer Moseley of the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, and Peter Brugger … [Read more...]

Reduced sensation matches reduced movement control in people with back pain

This study looked at sensory acuity at the back and the ability to perform specific movements of the back and pelvis.  By sensory acuity we mean how precise can we be about a stimulus applied to the skin of the back. We used a measure called two point discrimination threshold. That is, if one is touched in two locations at once, how far apart do … [Read more...]

Disownership or conflict between vision and proprioception?

Here is a great study in which the authors investigated something we discussed in our paper Psychologically induced cooling of a specific body part.... We proposed that the cooling and tactile processing impairment we saw might reflect a kind of functional neglect.  This paper by Folegatti et al in PLoS ONE[1] showed a slowing of tactile … [Read more...]

British Pain Society manoeuvres – why the desperation

Despite the grumblings about the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellent (NICE) in the UK, it seems to be seen as a 'gold standard' in other countries.  See this comment in Nature Taking the NICE path The United States can learn from the UK body that rates the effectiveness of medical procedures.... and our letter to the British … [Read more...]