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View Full Version : Is it possible to re-attach a hand and it eventually return to full working order?


Lobsang
08-06-2009, 11:44 AM
I've been watching Prison Break, and at the risk of spoiling it, a certain cast members predicament made me ponder this quesiton.

So, is it possible to re-attach a hand and for the hand to work (eventually) fully?

Tapioca Dextrin
08-06-2009, 11:57 AM
It's possible (http://handtransplant.com/NewsReleases/tabid/59/Default.aspx?GetStory=740)

Scott, a New Jersey native, age 44, is an instructor at Camden County College. He can use his transplanted hand for everyday living activities including picking up his two sons, opening a car door, turning door knobs, drinking from a glass, dialing a cell phone, writing his name and tying his shoes. Scott also has hot and cold sensation in his hand. He lost his dominant left hand on December 23, 1985 in a blast from an M80 firecracker accident.

Colibri
08-06-2009, 12:26 PM
I would point out that the case in the previous post involves a transplanted hand, rather than re-attaching the person's own severed hand. The latter case would be easier (provided it was done promptly and the hand was not too damaged) because there would be no tissue rejection issues and all the parts would match up.

There have even been some cases of double hand transplants. (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/30578273/)

rocking chair
08-06-2009, 12:31 PM
it usually doesn't have the same fine motor skills as it did, but gross motor skills are rather good.

Tapioca Dextrin
08-06-2009, 12:34 PM
If it's a plain reattachment, then it is a much simpler procedure, unless you're really, really clumsy (http://metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?Man_cuts_hand_off_for_second_time&in_article_id=531194&in_page_id=2)

A meatworker in New Zealand who accidentally cut his hand off with a saw had the operation to reattach it complicated by the fact that he'd previously cut the same arm off in a previous accident.

:eek:

Mr Buttons
08-06-2009, 12:35 PM
Our local paper's been kinda keeping tabs on the First double hand transplant (http://physorg.com/news160719520.html) in the US, since he's from my county.

He had the operation a couple months ago, last I remember he's still doing therapy to help fine tune his motor skills, but he's capable of doing simple things like grabbing hold/lifting stuff already.

Henrichek
08-06-2009, 12:35 PM
That reminds me of this news article from a couple weeks ago:

http://google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hd257tzqFDy77juZgmSnkBmqjA1QD99JI2I81

It's about a German man who got a double arm transplant (from shoulders) after being without arms for several years. I wouldn't say that he's back in full working order, but I find it quite amazing how well it works so far, and it seems to be getting better and better. He can lift them high enough to scratch his head, grip things, and so on, only a year after the transplant.

Jerseyman
08-06-2009, 12:36 PM
It's been done with an arm so it could be with a hand - if it is caught fast enough that the patient hasn't bled to death although the arteries are not sealed and the hand hasn't begun to deteriorate, both events that happen fast.

Henrichek
08-06-2009, 12:52 PM
Regarding the arm transplant, I can't imagine how freaky it must feel to have arms and hands from another person!

KneadToKnow
08-06-2009, 12:53 PM
Just happy to see that the thread title didn't have "need answer fast" in it.

Lobsang
08-06-2009, 01:03 PM
Just happy to see that the thread title didn't have "need answer fast" in it.

Well, it is starting to go green. So maybe I should have.

Dante
08-06-2009, 02:28 PM
A friend of mine had this happen. He stuck his hand under an industrial bandsaw to clean it while it was still running. Took his hand clean off, and then cut the thumb off of the severed hand.

It was reattached, including the thumb. He couldn't bend his thumb all the way to his palm, but other than that, it was good as new. Didn't even mangle any of his fingers. The scarring, while noticeable, wasn't horrific.

He said two things helped: The plant was very close to a hospital, and the cuts were so clean it apparently made it easier to re-attach.

Duckster
08-06-2009, 02:40 PM
If it's a plain reattachment, then it is a much simpler procedure, unless you're really, really clumsy (http://metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?Man_cuts_hand_off_for_second_time&in_article_id=531194&in_page_id=2)

A meatworker in New Zealand who accidentally cut his hand off with a saw had the operation to reattach it complicated by the fact that he'd previously cut the same arm off in a previous accident.

:eek:


Unless New Zealand has national health care, at the rate this guy is going, it's going to cost him more than an arm and a leg.

Colibri
08-06-2009, 02:51 PM
Just make sure the transplanted hands aren't from a murderer. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=smLlUh_x6DQ):eek:

teela brown
08-06-2009, 06:53 PM
I have always understood that nerve growth is very, very slow. So do they eventually regain feeling in the severed hand? It seems that that would be pretty important in an appendage through which you sense so much of your world.

Liberal
08-06-2009, 07:42 PM
People have sensations, like itching and burning in their hands, even when they don't have hands.

HorseloverFat
08-06-2009, 09:52 PM
The problem is nerves. Doctors cannot reattach them well as theyre just too small. I think they get as close as possible and hope it heals naturally over time. Even the best scenarios have permanent nerve loss.

chorpler
08-07-2009, 12:02 AM
People have sensations, like itching and burning in their hands, even when they don't have hands.

But that's not real sensation corresponding to real stimulation of the part (of course, since the part is missing), it's phantom sensation that arrises in the brain, right?

Liberal
08-07-2009, 07:17 PM
Yes, that's right. But in the end, all sensations are in the brain. They may be phantom sensations, but they feel as real to the patients as if they had hands.

Broomstick
08-07-2009, 08:11 PM
Phantom limb pain might, however, involve actual nerve endings entrapped in scar tissue. In which case it comes from damaged/compressed nerves, and isn't "just" in the head.

It IS a real sensation, regardless of whether it stems from actual nerves or some misunderstanding in the brain cells. Calling it "phantom" is really unfortunate, implying it isn't real. It's as real as any other sensation you might feel.

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