Tragically, land mines injure between 15,000 to 20,000 people each year. Some civilians see a metal object sticking out of the ground and attempt to pick it up and inspect it – the result is often loss of both hands and eyes.
The goal of rehabilitation after trauma is to restore as much independence as possible to patients. With loss of vision and no hands, self care, feeding, and donning/doffing arm prostheses can be very challenging. There is a procedure, known as the Krukenberg operation (named after Hermann Von Krukenberg, who first described it in 1917), that allows the forearm bones to be separated, using the muscle rotators that exist between them to create a pincer grasp. This procedure is not uncommonly used in India and Pakistan and does indeed return some degree of functional use to the arms.
At a recent Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation conference, this photograph was used to illustrate arm function after the Krukenberg operation.
It certainly presents a conundrum – should function trump aesthetics in all cases?
I’m not sure that I’d want this procedure, even if I lost my vision and both hands.