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Clinical trial

Neurofeedback for Treatment of Central Neuropathic Pain (CNP) in Sub-acute Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

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Last updated:27th Jun 2014

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) affects a person's ability to move and feel sensation in the body. SCI is also an indirect cause of a persistent pain, called Central Neuropathic Pain (CNP). This pain typically develops several months after the injury. In 30-40% of SCI patients, severe CNP affects their everyday living including sleep and mood. Many patients give up work, not because of the injury, but because of pain. Medical treatment of CNP is moderately effective and costly, both to the patient and to the health care system.

In previous research, characteristic 'signatures' of brain waves that are probably related to CNP have been defined. Based on this, a novel treatment for CNP based on neurofeedback was developed and clinically tested on five SCI patients. Electroencephalograph (EEG) was used to record patients' brain waves and these were shown to patients on a computer screen in a simple graphical form (e.g. bars). Patients were trained to change their brain activity at will and, as a consequence, their pain was reduced. Patients who had suffered from CNP for years received up to 40 neurofeedback treatment sessions, reducing their pain for several days after each session.

The primary aim of this study is to apply neurofeedback therapy to a larger number of recently injured patients, who are still in a hospital. It is hypothesised that neurofeedback treatment will be more effective in people who have suffered from CNP for a shorter period of time.

The secondary aim of the study is to define EEG predictors of CNP. EEG will be recorded in recently injured patients with no chronic pain, knowing that a certain number of patients will develop CNP within weeks or months. These patients will be followed up for a year and the EEGs of patients who develop CNP will be compared with those who do not.

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Study start date 2014-06-27

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