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Congenital Hand Deformities

What are congenital hand differences?

These are conditions present at birth that cause an abnormal appearance and functions of involved upper extremity. Differences range from as mild as a small tag of tissue on the hand to complete absence of the limb.

What is cause of these deformities?

Though in most of the cases the exact cause is still unknown, many environmental factors contribute in addition to genetic predisposition in some cases and mechanical causes like pressure in the uterus/ vascular compromise in others.

Who is responsible for these conditions?

Childbirth is a very much anticipated process, and having a child with deformity is associated with a mixed reaction of guilt, embarrassment or even rage. These deformations are usually the results of multiple complex developmental processes and happen at very early age (within first five to six weeks of lady becoming pregnant). The parents are not responsible neither the obstetrician. These defects cannot be always screened on ultrasound (unless very gross) prenatally and even if diagnosed, cannot be treated in the uterus.

What is fate of such children?

A child develops body image only after the age of eight to 9 years. They are unaware of the deformity and would make use of whatever they have and learn many adaptive patterns. Most of these children will manage to learn surprisingly difficult tasks compared to their limitations. If parents are positive about rehabilitating these children and instill confidence in them; these children will have near normal life. Sometimes constant reminder of deformity at home and by peers makes them loose self-confidence.

Can we correct these problems?

This question is difficult to answer as the correction depends upon the deformity and the severity of it. Few of them can be hardly improved by surgery while others can be functionally rehabilitated to a great extent. Giving normal appearance is possible only in certain cases while few children adapt to the deformity so well that sometimes the surgical correction is not warranted (in view of surgery may be disturbing the available function).

As you go through individual conditions described below one may get better idea about it. Only after thorough assessment of the child including the function, activities he/she can perform, the adaptive patterns they have developed one can suggest about necessity of these procedures.

However, when intervention is deemed necessary a team approach is necessary. The team includes the parents/guardians, the primary physician, a qualified hand surgeon, therapists, and, if little older, the affected child.

The purpose of this website is to create awareness among the parents of these gifted children about the possibilities of successfully functionally rehabilitate these children.

The website describes more common deformities and possible treatment options. Sometimes the deformities do not fit any of the available classification system and a train hand surgeon can guide you about the possible course.