Thursday, December 28, 2006

all hands on deck

Steve posted this in a comment below:

My Great Grandma used to tell me a story from her youth, about a boy in her hometown who was posessed by the devil. He used to walk on the roofs of houses at night. Eventually, the devil was exorcised and burst out the tip of his pinkie finger.

That is so cool and I want more. I'm looking for hand stories of all kinds. Injuries, myths, theories, beliefs, quotes, facts, drawings, etc. Post in the comments, or email to me at merfire at

Meanwhile enjoy painted hands from all over the world like this one at the Hand Collector Gallery.


Anonymous said...

are we obsessing again . . .

Linda S. Wingerter said...

That's hardly obsession.

This is obsession:

In a rare surgical procedure performed only twice before in the U.S., an accident victim's left hand was attached to his right arm by
plastic surgeons at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

The 45-year-old patient, John Evans, was injured severely in a train
accident. His left arm was severed at the shoulder and his right hand
at the wrist. While the severed left arm was detached and badly
mangled, the hand was undamaged. The right arm suffered slight damage
except for the mangled hand that was severed at the wrist. Evans, who
has a history of epilepsy, does not remember how the accident
occurred. One possibility is that he suffered a seizure prior to the

"A hand is much better than a prosthesis," notes plastic surgeon
Richard Brown, "even if it is on the opposite arm." With the
attachment of the left hand to the right arm, Evans' thumb points in
the opposite direction. In deciding whether to attempt the unusual
surgery, Brown considered the patient's general physical condition, which is good except for the epilepsy, and his needs. The patient's only other option would have been a prosthesis, a hook to replace the hand on his right arm. Because of severe damage to the left side, partial amputation of the shoulder was required, removing any
possibility of using a prosthesis on that side.

The surgery involved removal of the left hand from the mangled arm,
leaving ample length of nerves and tendons for reattachment. To gain
stabilization of the wrist, the scaphoid and lunate bones in the wrist were fused to the radius, one of the bones of the forearm. While the fusion limits up-and-down movement of the wrist, it was necessary to provide a stable structure for the reattachment process.

Looking through an operating microscope, which magnifies tissues 10-30 times, Brown attached the blood vessels and nerves of the hand to those of the arm, using sutures about the size of a hair. While
severed nerves in the reattached hand do not survive, they can serve
as a conduit for nerve regeneration into the hand.

The ease with which the patient can use the hand depends on the
reattachment of the tendons. Brown crossed the tendons in the arm so
that they would meet the matching tendons for each finger on the hand.
With this criss-cross procedure, a command from the brain to move the
index finger will result in movement of the index finger, rather than
the little finger.

Because several tendons on the back of the forearm were irreparably
damaged, it was necessary to attach the wrist extensor, a muscle in
the forearm, to the finger extensors. To open the fingers, Evans has to think about bending his wrist. The blood flow to the hand appears to be normal, and Evans is undergoing therapy to increase his range of motion in the hand and wrist. He is able to move his fingers a little bit and already can perform a few simple tasks. However, there is no feeling or sensitivity in the reattached hand. Evans eventually may regain some feeling as the nerves from the forearm grow into the hand. Brown is hopeful that the patient will regain enough sensitivity to distinguish between sharp and dull objects and hot and cold.