Dedicated to using 'Mirror Therapy' to alleviate the suffering caused by 'Phantom Limb Pain' amongst amputees in conflict/impoverished areas worldwide.
I use a cargo bicycle to deliver hand-made acrylic mirrors (made from locally sourced materials) and the incredibly simple and effective technique, to amputees in their villages or wherever they may be. Phantom pain is a terribly debilitating affliction. When it hits hard victims often find themselves alone, perplexed, ostracized by their family and community and unable to sleep, eat, go to work or carry on a normal life. Removing this miserable daily challenge from an amputee's life goes a long way towards elevating the quality of an already difficult life and allowing that person to rejoin society with dignity.
Mirror Therapy is the optimal treatment for anyone, anywhere, but particularly people in developing countries: there are no drugs (and hence no addiction issues); no need for hospitals, clinics or doctors; no need to travel and zero expense (I come to them, and I provide the mirrors).
The technique was developed in the 90s by VS Ramachandran, one of the two or three most famous neuroscientists in the world. It's a visualization technique whereby the patient looks at a mirror image of his/her limb in place of the limb they no longer have. It has been found that literally immediately the brain commences to 're-wire' or 're-map' itself and ceases to send out distress or warning signals which manifest themselves as 'Phantom Limb Pain.' If a patient treats himself for just 10 minutes per session, twice a day for a period of 4 to 5 weeks, he/she can reasonably expect to be cured for life.
Mirror therapy is miraculous in the sense that it addresses one of the most complex disorders in the medical world with one of the world's most simple common household implements.
After over 15 years and thousands of successes and in face of the fact that nothing else works with anywhere near the same efficacy and facility, mirror therapy is hardly alternative. It has been embraced as the treatment of choice by the US Military, The American Automobile Association and the American Pain Foundation.
Each day I grow ever more firmly convinced that my project is a valuable humanitarian mission. I started with a 6 month self-funded pilot trip to Cambodia, one of the most landmined areas on earth and home to tens of thousands of amputees. I can state with certainty that there is precious little chance that these poor people would EVER discover this simple way to relieve their misery without someone like me to bring it to them.
Sadly, the list of countries where poverty and conflict have produced millions of amputees is a long one: Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans, Columbia... it's endless. I intend to visit as many as I possibly can.
Finally, it is now being discovered that mirror therapy is effective in treating a host of other afflictions: strokes and paralysis, complex regional pain syndrome and diverse nerve disorders. The need is out there.
Easy. Airfare. Food and Lodging. Mirrors. Minor admin/documentation expenses. Period. No laptops, no cars, no office space, no assistants or payroll. The mirrors themselves are by far the biggest daily expense. I fabricate two lengths; one for arm amputees and one for leg amps. They are approx. 40 cm and 80cm long from just over 3 dollars to just under 5 dollars respectively (in Cambodia).
10K would fund most of my needs for a full 3 month mission; mid-Feb until sometime in May, including the production of a minimum of 400 acrylic mirrors. 5000 dollars I estimate as a 'tipping point' because with that much in the bank I could at least buy a plane ticket, make a first run of, say, 200 mirrors and get to work in the field while working on and hoping for further funds to materialize.