Amputee Moves 'Fingers,' Thanks to Innovative Prosthesis

In a first-of-its-kind surgery, North Carolina doctors have provided a higher level of dexterity to an amputee through an innovative operation giving more fine motor skills and dexterity through a prosthesis.

Hand surgeons from OrthoCarolina in Charlotte reported they were the first to complete the surgery, which will allow the amputee to have individual finger control on a prosthesis.

“The severity of this patient’s injury was so great that replanting the lost fingers was not possible, so we collaborated on a new surgery that would allow him to have individual digital control,” Dr. Glenn Gaston, a hand surgeon and co-creator of the prosthetic said in a statement.

Gaston and Dr. Bryan Loeffler, an orthopedic surgeon, wanted to help patients who have lost their regain their fine dexterity.

“Patients who have sustained full or partial hand amputations obviously have significant morbidity and limited function, which is a challenge," Gaston said. "Because of the limited number of muscles available after a hand amputation, prostheses have previously allowed only control of the thumb and fingers as a group, and single finger control was never possible.”

Gaston and Loeffler examined whether moving muscles from fingers of a partial hand amputee, who had a few but not all of his fingers, could help. They were able to move the muscles into the man's wrist so he could have more control over the prosthesis.

Now the prosthesis can detect the right signals for each finger and therefore move fingers individually.