ATLANTA — Hand transplantation is an established means of upper limb reconstruction and should not be considered experimental, according to a presenter at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium.
Steven L. Moran, MD, professor of orthopedics and plastic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, told the audience that hand transplantation has been performed on more than 75 patients worldwide since 1998. A worldwide registry, which was established in 2002, has only furthered the complicated procedure’s legitimacy.
“One of the more interesting things that we now know about injury to the limbs is that the brain undergoes a component of atrophy when you lose a finger or limb,” he said.
According to Moran, a component of a transplantation patient’s sensory and motor cortexes in their brain atrophy over time. It was thought to be impossible for patients who underwent an amputation several years earlier to recover that component in the brain.
“We know now that it is possible,” he said. “MRI and CT scan studies have shown that after transplanting a limb, those areas of the sensory and motor cortex of the brain reactivates.”
Moran S. Upper limb amputee rehabilitation: It’s not just about the hand, or is it? Presented at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. March 21-24. Atlanta.