BackgroundWe studied children and adolescents with symbrachydactyly to determine whether hand function depends on digit opposability and whether scores for function and quality-of-life measures differ from population norms.
MethodsParticipants were grouped on the basis of hand morphology: Group A lacked opposable digits, and Group B had ≥2 digits that were opposable. The groups were compared with each other and with norms with respect to pinch strength, the performance of bimanual activities and in-hand manipulation, and questionnaires regarding psychosocial status and the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). Participants and parents also rated the appearance and function of the hand.
ResultsPinch strength was higher for participants in Group B (4.1 compared with 2.4 kg; p = 0.008), but the groups did not differ with respect to the proportion of participants outside of pinch norms. Participants in Group B were more likely to actively use their affected hand to perform bimanual activities (p ≤ 0.0009), and to use normal or supination strategies to accomplish in-hand manipulation (p = 0.031). The groups did not differ in the proportion of ADLs rated "difficult" or "impossible," and both groups tested within normal limits for psychosocial function. Participants from both groups and their parents rated their satisfaction with hand appearance and function similarly high.
ConclusionsParticipants with ≥2 opposable digits incorporated their hand better in bimanual activities and used more effective strategies to accomplish in-hand manipulation than those who did not. These groups reported no difference in the ability to perform ADLs or with psychosocial function, which was within the normal range. Children and adolescents with symbrachydactyly demonstrated and reported a high level of function in all domains of validated function tests. This study provides information to help parents of children with a unilateral hand malformation understand their child's potential function, and assist surgeons with recommending treatment.
Level of evidencePrognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.