How quickly might you expect a profound loss of sensation to come back "online"?
Consider the body part that you are sitting on. Do you feel it as you sit? If you move? Standup and then quickly sit again?
Consider what happens when your fingers get cold? Do you feel the coldness after a while? For most people, the experience of skin temperature fades after seconds to a few minutes.
The failure to fade sensations may be central to syndromes that involve an unending experience of painful coldness. PhotoMed's feasibility studies welcomed people experiencing "stuck" awareness of coldness that thermal imaging showed was separate from the limbs actual temperatures.
Other volunteers experienced varying degrees of numbness. A few arrived with no awareness of their feet. The team and medical advisors were perplexed by the sudden return of normal sensations after a few minutes of variable-wavelength therapy.
Figure 1 By 2023, the team had ruled out many models for how a few photons might "work" to prompt the return-to-normal functioning from seemingly disparate impairments. Sensorimotor adaptation (SA) coordinates the flow of information and energy needed to stay alive and to repair damage. Simplified, functions can stall and get "stuck". Non-invasive therapies draw SA attention; PhotoMed's variable-wavelengths happens to be very efficient.
Advisor Catherine Willner MD (neurologist) suggested that awareness, like pain, is separate from the factual sensations. She observed that some people complained that a change in the texture of their slippers was painful even though they were not aware of any sensations in their feet. Dr. Willner suggested that "learned non-awareness" of a limb's touch sensations might be a mapping problem. The return of awareness could result when sensory maps reverted to an earlier map and later updated. That is the loss of sensation results from a "stuck" map or corruption of the updating of ordinary maps. The therapy prompts the body to resume its ordinary updating of maps, starting with a previous map. Like how a multilingual speaker can effortlessly switch between fluent languages but not to a yet to be learned language.
Dr. Willner passed on in 2022 before the team learned about phototaxis which shows sensorimotor adaptation within a single cell. The "aha" was that phototaxis appears to be what she had suggested would be an underlying basic function that connects photons with the outcomes not accounted for by conventional mechanisms of action that may be only the first step from photons to other forms of energy.
1. Could touch sensation have been turned "off" and the therapy prompted it to turn "on" again?
“Brenda’s” right fingers were numb after an elbow surgery that did not relieve her elbow pain. She enrolled in a PhotoMed sponsored feasibility study to see if the therapy might relieve the pain in her elbows. Brenda’s pain was temporarily relieved. She never considered that her fingers might feel normal again. The Instant Verification System recorded her visits.
Brenda was excited to explore her “new” finger sensations as she put them to a test. (0:54)
Figure 2 -The unexpected resumption of sensation maybe tested via cross-sensory perception. The person is often perplexed by the unexpected return of sensations such that they look intently at their fingers while touching or moving them. Touching familiar objects also seems to help with accepting the sensations that would normally have been taken for granted.
Figure 3 - Interesting events may be efficiently found by reviewing clips at high speed (5x in this video). The high-angle camera in the Instant Verification System recorded details that the not noticed by the technician.
2. Weird, could sensations come back online, but not be aligned with his feet?
“George” arrived at his first visit walking stooped over from back pain, or so the practitioner thought.
Rather than responding to pain, he was looking at his profoundly numb feet to keep from falling. 40 years of diabetes had taken a toll on his body. He and his wife reported that he hadn’t felt his feet for about the last 8 years.
During his first visit, his back pain lessened. That was a win for George. He hadn’t considered that the “dead” nerves in his feet might be revived.
Therapy to his feet at his first visit yielded a “maybe” to strong pressure applied to his toes.
George returned a week later not looking at his feet. He complied with a request to not move or look at his feet until asked. The technician didn't explain how often that sensations in other volunteers had returned after years of being offline.
Within minutes after the test therapy began, George reported touch sensations from a 19 grams vonFrey monofilament. Then on down to 5.1gm.
However, George reported incorrect locations when he reported being touched. He didn't know that his answers were wrong.
Could cross-sensory stimulation be needed to keep touch maps normally aligned?
Figure 4 - For more than 20 minutes, George could feel being touched but reported being touched at a different location. The maps would have realigned if George had moved or looked at where he was being touched.
Figure 5 - Watch as George looks at his feet for the first time after a few minutes of testing. The time bar starts when he first received a treatment during his 2nd visit. (2:50)
3. George's renewed sensations suggest a simple explanation
George and his wife arrived at the feasibility study with the certainty that his doctors were correct that the nerves in his feet were dead. The newly restored sensations puzzled George as had occurred with Brenda and others in the study. The team was excited to see that George was able to fulfill the "don't look and don't move your feet" request.
Previous cases with restored sensation, such as with Brenda, involved cross-sensory perception before the map alignment could be tested. George provided an easier case because feet may be less instinctive than to rub fingers, as Brenda shows in Section 1.
The real-time recordings let the team re-examine the events to test new concepts. The return to normal functioning describes the outcome but not how the "right" photons might interact with the "nonexistent nerves" in his end-stage peripheral neuropathy. It was daunting to challenge the "there is no cure for diabetes-related neuropathy" described on the websites of prestigious institutions. It seemed preposterous for a few photons to force the body to heal itself.
The team began to look upstream from the loss of sensation and all of the other crazy-fast "impossible" responses and outcomes. The term "autonomic" nervous system suggested that the automation "works" at all levels of living things. Automation runs the myriad interactions that give life to every cell, structure, and up to whales. It is intention that directs where the automation goes. When the automation stalls, then the cells (etc.) that follow miss the correct directions.
In early 2023, the team stumbled on a plausible explanation called sensorimotor adaptation (SA). SA operates at all scales of organisms from single cells to humans. Light spectrum detection and response are fundamental. For 3 billion years, single cell organisms have sensed and adjusted their position, called phototaxis, to efficiently harvest visible photonic energy while avoiding damaging UV rays.
Human skin cells utilize multiple mechanisms to sense subtle changes in spectrum and respond by signaling rather than moving. It is the variation in spectrum from the variable-wavelength therapy that draws the body's attention. In the case of the return of sensation, awareness can switch back to use older maps. It is like how a multilingual speaker switches among fluent languages.
PhotoMed's real-time recordings suggest that "stuck" sensorimotor adaptation applies to most, if not all, of the crazy-fast return to normal functioning events. For example, cold hands resume normal functioning by warming, range of motion resumes by moving freely, and wounds resume by introducing fresh exudates.
PhotoMed's team created real-time recording system (Instant Verification System) to document unprecedented events. The recordings show events in fine temporal and spatial details. The team built, and the data broke, many models before finding sensorimotor adaptation.
Figure 6 - For more than 20 minutes, George could feel his feet being touched but reported being touched at a different location. The maps would likely have realigned if George had moved or looked at where he was being touched.
The body's sensorimotor adaptation (SA) can get "stuck" (1) to cause a cascade of problems. George had the loss of both touch (1-3) and touch-location (1-4). The Variable-Wavelength therapy (2-3) drew SA attention (2) sufficiently for automation of his touch maps to resume (3). However, his touch-location maps were not updated. His cross-sensory observation (4) prompted his SA to resume updating his touch-location maps. The SA generated a surprise gasp as the awareness of touch shifted to the correct location
These recorded offline/online events are ordinary in every respect except for their years of delay. Thus, the outcome of his ordinary sensing and its continuation (5) aren't special.
Just a change in the sensorimotor adapatation state?
Sensorimotor adaptation coordinates the flow of information and energy as the intentions and sensory inputs change.
Like with a burr in your finger, your signaling and healing systems perform their tasks but don't care what humans name the problems.
Could some treatment-resistant forms of pain and impaired functions be a stalled state of sensorimotor adaptation?
Couldn't the healing processes be continuously attempting to resume? For most injuries, couldn't the healing processes stop-resume multiple times before completing?
Could "managed" pain be possible when sensorimotor adaptation is "working" but conveying corrupted information or information of a problem that hasn't healed?
Figure 7 - Depiction of healing states: healing is waiting to resume as an ordinary part of sensorimotor adaptation (SA). The therapy draws attention of the SA which then resumes the healing process.
Could the unexpected return to normal sensorimotor adaptation occur when healing has otherwise completed.
Please share your thoughts.
Could "stuck" sensorimotor adaptation explain how other sensory functions might work?
"Kathy" had complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS or RSD) for many years. She had a sympathectomy that turned off the automation of skin temperature control in her left hand. Her hands had both turned unresponsively cold.(1 in Figure 8)
The pain in her hands felt like holding ice at its worst.
The variable-wavelength therapy prompted her hands to warm (responses are typically bilateral) but her left hand was prevented from warming.(2)
Despite the unilateral warming, both her hands felt relief as if both had warmed.(3) Her right hand continued to be responsive to temperatures.(4) The benefits continued for about a year and were repeated.
The team thought that the bilateral comfort didn't make sense. That is, until Robert E. Florin MD (neurosurgeon) recognized that the feeling of a temperature is a transient response. The feeling of a static cold or warm state ordinarily fades to nothing.
Figure 8 - Depiction and thermal images of unilateral warming with the return of bilateral comfort from pain and the feeling of intractable coldness.
The real-time recordings and data let the team revisit this and other examples that show basic functions of the sensory and motor systems. It took 23 years before the data screamed "sensorimotor adaptation" as the common denominator.
Figure 9- Thermal imaging of Kathy's unilateral hand warming. She reported that the warming sensations were bilateral.
In summary, the concept that "healing is waiting to resume" at the most basic levels accounts for the versatility of non-invasive therapies. PhotoMed's therapy happens to be efficient. The real-time recordings let everyone see events and decide for themselves how the information might bring hope to people experiencing impaired functioning.