Early use of artificial sensibility in hand transplantation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Hands were transplanted from brain-dead donors for the treatment of two male unilateral amputees, aged 35 years and 32 years, involved in the Italian Hand Transplantation Programme. Each had lost his right dominant hand, in a farming accident and an explosion, respectively. In one case artificial sensibility was applied postoperatively using a Sensor Glove that transformed vibrotactile stimuli induced by touch, to stereophonic vibroacoustic stimuli perceived through earphones. The principle is based on the brain's capacity for multimodal plasticity, implying that deprivation of one sense (somatosensory) can be compensated for by another sense (auditory). Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI) taken at regular intervals showed that cortical remodelling of the transplanted hand within the sensory-motor maps occurred early in the patient who used the artificial sensibility regimen compared with the one who did not. We conclude that postoperative use of a device using hearing as a substitution for sensation in hand transplantation may have considerable potential value for speeding up cortical integration of a transplanted hand.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Surgery

Keywords

  • injury, nerve, artificial sensibility, hand transplantation, hand amputation, brain plasticity, cortical reorganisation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-111
JournalScandinavian Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hand Surgery
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes