Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have developed a system to monitor hand use in people with hand prostheses or patients who have undergone a hand transplant. Technology tracks the movement of hands and arms and helps control how people use their hands in everyday life. These data could help guide the personalized treatment of patients, while allowing doctors to monitor recovery and mobility in many conditions that can affect the use of the hands, such as multiple sclerosis and stroke.
Losing a hand can make everyday tasks difficult, although researchers have developed a number of technologies and methods to help amputees, from robotic prostheses to hand transplants. However, measuring the performance of a given approach for patients during their daily lives is important to refining and customizing these treatments for maximum effect.
A key parameter is to measure how much someone uses their prosthesis or transplanted hand compared to the other hand. To facilitate this, these researchers have developed a system of motion sensors that attach to someone’s hands and arms. The sensors can then track the use of hands and arms for several days, providing data that would otherwise be difficult to accurately capture.
“We can take people to a clinic or laboratory and measure how they are doing with a prosthesis or a hand transplant, but these observations are usually made in optimal, artificial conditions, so they may not show us exactly how. it really works for people during their daily lives, “said Scott Frey, a researcher involved in the study. “These sensors, which continuously record movements for several days as people go through their lives, have the ability to revolutionize treatments by providing real-world data that will help us develop personalized approaches to treat traumatic hand loss.”
To date, researchers have tested the devices on volunteers with prostheses or hand transplants and monitored their movement for three days. “Most activities performed by a typical adult involve a fairly balanced dependence on both hands,” Frey said. “In the course of a normal day, approximately 55% of people’s activities involve the dominant hand and 45% the non-dominant hand. We now have evidence that experienced prosthesis users rely on their prosthetic hand for approximately 20% of their daily activities and use their uninjured limb for the remaining 80%. Hand transplant recipients have a more balanced pattern of limb use that is closer to what we see in healthy adults, although not entirely in the 55% / 45% range.
While these data appear to lean toward the benefits of a hand transplant, researchers point out that the technique is not for everyone, with risks of infection, scarcity of donors, and side effects from long-term use. of immunosuppressants. consider.
Study in the newspaper Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair: Increased and more natural use of the upper limbs during daily life by former amputees versus prosthetic users