for people ages 18-80 (full criteria)
at San Diego, California
study started
estimated completion:
Thomas R. Rutledge



This study will develop a virtual reality-based treatment for phantom limb pain among Veterans and test it against the most established behavioral therapy for phantom limb pain, mirror therapy.

Official Title

Adapting Virtual Reality Technology for the Treatment of Phantom Limb Pain


The VA system performs more than 10% of all amputations in the U.S., a percentage translating into more than 50,000 upper and lower extremity amputations in the past decade. Among Veterans with amputations, research suggests that upwards of 70% experience phantom limb pain (PLP), an often chronic and debilitating condition with adverse effects on quality of life and poor responsiveness to conventional pain treatments. The use of virtual reality technology for chronic pain management is a novel and rapidly advancing area of study, with existing research suggesting that virtual reality treatments are effective for acute pain management, promising for chronic pain management, and as yet untested for PLP. In the current study, the investigators will develop a virtual reality environment that simulates mirror therapy - the gold standard behavioral treatment for PLP - comparing the efficacy of this modality in a population of Veterans with PLP against a standard mirror therapy treatment validated by this research team in a previously supported clinical trial.


Phantom Limb Pain Phantom Limb Virtual Reality Mirror therapy


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-80

  • Ages 21-75 Veteran receiving care at VASDHS
  • Upper or lower extremity amputation with reported PLP for at least six months
  • PLP intensity > 3/10
  • English-speaking, literate, with stable residence
  • Able to operate a VR headset as evidenced by direct observation

You CAN'T join if...

  • Major medical illness that might confound effects of pain on function, e.g.:
  • advanced cardiac
  • pulmonary disease
  • current active alcohol or substance use disorder as evidenced from medical record
  • currently active suicidality
  • homicidality, or unstable psychiatric status in previous three months as measured by direct observation, patient self-report, or medical record
  • moderate or severe cognitive impairment as demonstrated by medical diagnosis or clinical observation
  • prior mirror therapy experience


  • VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA accepting new patients
    San Diego California 92161 United States


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
VA Office of Research and Development
Lead Scientist
Thomas R. Rutledge
Study Type
Last Updated
July 16, 2018