Which Is Better: Hand Transplant or Prosthetic?

Researchers have developed a way to continuously track hand and arm movements to improve personalized treatments for amputees.

When someone undergoes hand amputation, they essentially have two options: a prosthetic, or a hand transplant. But which works better? According to a recent Medgadget article, scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia intend to find out. The team developed a system of sensors that gather data on amputees as they go about their normal daily activities. The data they gather will help inform personalized treatments for patients, and let clinicians track recovery and mobility in a variety of conditions that involve hand movement like MS or stroke.

The system of sensors attaches to a patient’s hand and upper arm, and tracks the movement over a period of several days. One of the main parameters they are interested in is how much amputees use their prosthesis or transplanted hand versus their healthy hand. Non-amputee people typically use their dominant hand for 55% of tasks, while their non-dominant hand handles the other 45%. The researchers observed that patients with prosthetic hands show an 80%/20% split, favoring the healthy hand over the prosthetic. Recipients of hand transplants displayed a more balanced split.

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