Washington: A new study has revealed that people who had their own hand or a transplanted hand reattached can regain near-normal sense of touch even years later of the surgery.
The restored sense of touch appears to stem from the brain's ability to reorganize itself after an amputation. Remarkably, this adaptation occurs even when a hand is transplanted decades after the injury, the Mashable reported.
After a hand amputation, brain areas that once received sensory input from the missing limb become rewired.
Some of Scott Frey, a neuroscientist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, previous research suggested that a hand transplant may be able to reverse some of the brain's reorganization, but not much was known about how well this would restore hand function.
Only about 100 hand transplants have been performed worldwide, but the success rate was more than 95 percent, because of the advances in preventing immune system rejection of the donor limb.
Hand transplantation is still in its early phases, and is limited by the availability of limb donors. For many amputees, prosthetic hands might be a more promising option.
A number of researchers have already developed prosthetic arms that can restore a limited sense of touch. Frey and his colleagues haven't compared the sensory abilities of transplanted hands to those of prosthetic limbs, however.