BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Body image distortions following spinal cord injury

    Fuentes, C.T. and Pazzaglia, M. and Longo, Matthew R. and Scivoletto, G. and Haggard, P. (2013) Body image distortions following spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 84 (2), pp. 201-207. ISSN 0022-3050.

    paper_BIT_SCI_121009.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

    Download (104kB) | Preview


    Background: Following spinal cord injury (SCI) or anaesthesia, people may continue to experience feelings of the size, shape, and posture of their body, suggesting that the conscious body image is not fully determined by immediate sensory signals. How this body image is affected by changes in sensory inputs from, and motor outputs to the body remains unclear. Methods: We tested paraplegic and tetraplegic SCI patients on a task that yields quantitative measures of body image. Participants were presented with an anchoring stimulus on a computer screen and told to imagine that the displayed body part was part of a standing mirror image of themselves. They then identified the position on the screen, relative to the anchor, where each of several parts of their body would be located. Veridical body dimensions were identified based on measurements and photographs of participants. Results: Compared to age-matched controls, paraplegic and tetraplegic patients alike perceived their torso and limbs as elongated relative to their body width. No effects of lesion level were found. Conclusions: The common distortions in body image across patient groups, despite differing SCI levels, imply that a body image may be maintained despite chronic sensory and motor loss. Systematic alterations in body image follow SCI, though our results suggest these may reflect prolonged changes in body posture and wheelchair use, rather than loss of specific sensorimotor pathways. These findings provide new insight into how the body image is maintained, and may prove useful in treatments that intervene to manipulate the body image.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): spinal cord injury, body image, body representations, sensory loss, rehabilitation
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Matthew Longo
    Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2013 10:39
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:59


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item