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“My Hand Is Different”: Altered Body Perception in Stroke Survivors with Chronic Pain

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posted on 2023-07-17, 01:22 authored by Brendon HaslamBrendon Haslam, David ButlerDavid Butler, GL Moseley, AS Kim, Leeanne CareyLeeanne Carey
Background: Chronic pain and body perception disturbance are common following stroke. It is possible that an interaction exists between pain and body perception disturbance, and that a change in one may influence the other. We therefore investigated the presence of body perception disturbance in individuals with stroke, aiming to determine if a perceived change in hand size contralateral to the stroke lesion is more common in those with chronic pain than in those without. Methods: Stroke survivors (N = 523) completed an online survey that included: stroke details, pain features, and any difference in perceived hand size post-stroke. Results: Individuals with stroke who experienced chronic pain were almost three times as likely as those without chronic pain to perceive their hand as now being a different size (OR = 2.895; 95%CI 1.844, 4.547). Further, those with chronic pain whose pain included the hand were almost twice as likely to perceive altered hand size than those whose pain did not include the hand (OR = 1.862; 95%CI 1.170, 2.962). This was not influenced by hemisphere of lesion (p = 0.190). Conclusions: The results point to a new characteristic of chronic pain in stroke, raising the possibility of body perception disturbance being a rehabilitation target to improve function and pain-related outcomes for stroke survivors.


Funding for software development and website hosting for the study was provided by the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute. We acknowledge support from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia Partnership grant (GNT 1134495); NHMRC Project grant (GNT 1022694); NHMRC Ideas grant (GNT 2004443); James S McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Science Initiative in Cognitive Rehabilitation-Collaborative Award (#220020413); a Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health top up scholarship awarded to BSH; and the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Program. GLM is supported by a Leadership Investigator Grant (ID 1178444). This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Scholarship.


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© 2022 by the authors.Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.This article is an open access article distributed under the terms andconditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license: (