International News Desk – At Home: Investigation continues into the Frank Paul case – In Foreign News: Breakthrough research into phantom limb pain

International News Desk – At Home: Investigation continues into the Frank Paul case – In Foreign News: Breakthrough research into phantom limb pain

At Home: Investigation continues into the Frank Paul case

After nine years of lobbying by Aboriginals and concerned Vancouver action groups, the inquiry into Frank Paul’s death has finally been opened. The homeless aboriginal man was found dead in an alley in Vancouver after being taken from the drunk tank and deposited in the alley by police.

His family was originally told that his death was caused by a hit and run; later, they were informed of the actual circumstances by a counsel to the B.C. Police Complaint Commission in a phone call that came a full two years after the incident.

Aboriginals in the area have been calling for a formal inquiry into Paul’s death based on their belief that racism had a major role to play in the treatment of the deceased; apart from dealing with this allegation, the current inquiry will also question the ability of the police force to investigate itself following such an incident.

The treatment of people in police custody who are affected by drugs or alcohol will also be investigated since, according to many witnesses who knew Paul, the man was an alcoholic and was drunk at the time of his death.

A former driver for the organization Saferide has said that Paul was not a violent man, but that his health was failing him and he would often have trouble walking. Saferide organizes the pickup and drop-off of drunks to facilities where they can sober up, and former employee Brian Morgan says he would never have left any drunk alone in an alley regardless of his ability to walk.

When Paul was deposited in the alley in an area he is reported to have sporadically called home, his clothes were soaking wet, he was still drunk despite a stay in the drunk tank, and he was completely unable to walk. The cause of death was reported as hypothermia.

The police officer who left Paul in the alley was given a one-day suspension; the sergeant in charge was suspended for two days.

In Foreign News: Breakthrough research into phantom limb pain

Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have conducted a study into possible visualisation treatment for victims of phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain is experienced by 90% of amputees and is thought to be related to the damaged nerve endings caused by the loss of the limb; amputees will often perceive pain in the place where their missing limb used to be.

The study group consisted of 18 volunteers, all of whom had lost a leg (most of these were victims of the Iraq War).

The volunteers were split into three groups and given four weeks of treatment: the first group was set up to look into a mirror that reflected their intact limb and visualize the missing limb in its place; the second group watched a covered mirror; and the final group was given mental visualization exercises.

The average pain rating of the volunteers before treatment was 30 out of a possible 100; after the program, the mirror group reported the best results, with the average pain rating dropping to seven out of 100.

The covered-mirror group experienced heightened pain during treatment, and the pain ratings of the visualization group were elevated during the first week and then alleviated over the course of the following three weeks.

The researchers are happy with the results; however, they regret that they do not fully understand why the mirror therapy, or any mental visualization, helps to treat phantom limb pain. For now, the best guess of doctors involved in the study is that ?the mirror may have provided visual feedback that turned down the brain’s pain pathways.?

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