Electromagnetic Field From Cellphone Towers May Amplify Pain in Amputees
Neuroscience News February 3, 2016
Open Neuroscience Articles
For years, retired Maj. David Underwood has noticed that whenever he drove under power lines and around other electromagnetic fields, he would feel a buzz in what remained of his arm. When traveling by car through Texas’ open spaces, the buzz often became more powerful.
“When roaming on a cellphone in the car kicked in, the pain almost felt like having my arm blown off again,” said Underwood, an Iraq War veteran who was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). His injuries have resulted in 35 surgeries and the amputation of his left arm. Shrapnel from the IED also tore part of his leg and left him with more than 100 smaller wounds. “I didn’t notice the power lines, cellphones on roam or other electromagnetic fields until I first felt them in my arm.”
Until a recent study led by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas was published online last month in PLOS ONE, there was no scientific evidence to back up the anecdotal stories of people, such as Underwood, who reported aberrant sensations and neuropathic pain around cellphone towers and other technology that produce radio-frequency electromagnetic fields.
“Our study provides evidence, for the first time, that subjects exposed to cellphone towers at low, regular levels can actually perceive pain,” said Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega, senior author of the study and an associate professor of bioengineering in the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Our study also points to a specific nerve pathway that may contribute to our main finding.”