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Man who lost hand in work accident part of promising new research

In a recent post, we discussed the compensation that may be available to workers who have suffered certain types of injuries on the job. In that post, which can be read by clicking here, we specifically mentioned amputation injuries as being eligible for benefits in addition to workers' compensation.

Amputation can be the result of a catastrophic accident or an aggressive and often necessary solution to very serious injury. Whether an amputation happens on a job site or in a hospital room, it can typically leave a worker disabled and with dramatically limited capabilities. However, recent reports on an experimental procedure may be a source of hope for workers who have lost a body part.

Reports indicate that researchers have seen promising results in an experimental program aimed at helping patients with an amputation feel sensations with a prosthetic limb. One of the two men involved in the program lost his hand as a result of a work injury and says that ever since then, he has experienced what is known as "phantom pain." 

The man lost his hand in the accident, but says he still was feeling incredible pain where the limb used to be. Researchers were able to determine that the man still had active nerve bundles in his arm, and they used implanted electric cuffs to connect these nerves to a prosthetic hand.

Once the nerves were connected to the hand, the man was able to sense touch on 19 different parts of the prosthetic limb. A second man involved in the same program experienced similar results.

In addition to partially replacing some of the senses that are lost through amputation, the system of connecting active nerves to prosthetic limbs has also shown evidence that it can alleviate phantom pain.

As promising as the results of this program have been, it is still considered to be in the experimental phase. However, some researchers believe that it could be a widespread option for amputees in the next 10 years.

Research like this could ultimately prove to be life-changing for victims of serious injuries. However, until these procedures are approved for larger populations of patients, amputees may still be wise to pursue maximum compensation for their injuries to get the medical care and benefits they deserve.

Source: WebMD, "New Prosthetic Hands Restore Sense of Touch," Alan Mozes, Oct. 8, 2014

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