Early use of artificial sensibility in hand transplantation

Marco Lanzetta, Daniela Perani, Davide Anchisi, Birgitta Rosén, Massimo Danna, Paola Scifo, Ferruccio Fazio, Göran Lundborg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hands were transplanted from brain-dead donors for the treatment of two male unilateral amputees, aged 35 years and 32 years, involved in the Italian Hand Transplantation Programme. Each had lost his right dominant hand, in a farming accident and an explosion, respectively. In one case artificial sensibility was applied postoperatively using a Sensor Glove that transformed vibrotactile stimuli induced by touch, to stereophonic vibroacoustic stimuli perceived through earphones. The principle is based on the brain's capacity for multimodal plasticity, implying that deprivation of one sense (somatosensory) can be compensated for by another sense (auditory). Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI) taken at regular intervals showed that cortical remodelling of the transplanted hand within the sensory-motor maps occurred early in the patient who used the artificial sensibility regimen compared with the one who did not. We conclude that postoperative use of a device using hearing as a substitution for sensation in hand transplantation may have considerable potential value for speeding up cortical integration of a transplanted hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-111
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hand Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Artificial sensibility
  • Brain plasticity
  • Cortical reorganisation
  • Hand amputation
  • Hand transplantation
  • Nerve injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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