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2004 Conference Archive
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Using phenomenology in rehabilitating amputees

Floris Tomasini, Lancaster University

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This paper attempts to describe what phantom limb is like - from the patient's perspective - rather than what phantom limb is - from a clinician's perspective. In doing so, a phenomenological method is employed, suspending as many assumptions and presuppositions as is possible, in order to reveal fundamental descriptions about the meaning of the phantom in the everyday life of the amputee.

In particular this project focuses on the significance of amputee's and their avowal of two simultaneous contradictory realities: the reality of a 'living' limb and its destruction. It is argued that what is significant about this ambivalence, in the context of rehabilitation, is that it can be experienced as a positive as well as negative. That is, instead of seeing the phantom only as a physical and psychological hindrance, in certain circumstances with particular patients, it could be a physical and psychological aid in rehabilitation. This may lead to a number of complementary strategies for rehabilitating amputees.

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