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© 2018 by The Japan Neurosurgical Society. A brachial plexus root avulsion (BPRA) causes intractable pain in the insensible affected hands. Such pain is partly due to phantom limb pain, which is neuropathic pain occurring after the amputation of a limb and partial or complete deafferentation. Previous studies suggested that the pain was attributable to maladaptive plasticity of the sensorimotor cortex. However, there is little evidence to demonstrate the causal links between the pain and the cortical representation, and how much cortical factors affect the pain. Here, we applied lesioning of the dorsal root entry zone (DREZotomy) and training with a brain–machine interface (BMI) based on real-time magnetoencephalography signals to reconstruct affected hand movements with a robotic hand. The DREZotomy successfully reduced the shooting pain after BPRA, but a part of the pain remained. The BMI training successfully induced some plastic changes in the sensorimotor representation of the phantom hand movements and helped control the remaining pain. When the patient tried to control the robotic hand by moving their phantom hand through association with the representation of the intact hand, this especially decreased the pain while decreasing the classification accuracy of the phantom hand movements. These results strongly suggested that pain after the BPRA was partly attributable to cortical representation of phantom hand movements and that the BMI training controlled the pain by inducing appropriate cortical reorganization. For the treatment of chronic pain, we need to know how to modulate the cortical representation by novel methods.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurologia Medico-Chirurgica

Publication Date





327 - 333