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March 07 , 2011

In Our Hands

A Hand Surgeon's Tales of the Body's Most Exquisite Instrument


The hand and its relationship to human identity

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L'alouette du casque ou Victoria la mère des camps

Moi, descendant de Joël, le brenn de la tribu de Karnak ; moi, Scanvoch, redevenu libre par le courage de mon père Ralf et les vaillantes insurrections gauloises, armées de siècles en siècle, j’écris ceci deux cent soixante-quatre ans après que mon aïeule Geneviève, femme de Fergan, a…

Over the twenty years that Arnold Arem has worked as a reconstructive hand surgeon, he has reflected on the impact of living with pain and questions of psychic well-being in the face of crippling injury and physical deformity. He has helped many patients through his mixture of technical skill and an all-too-rare ability to simply listen to them.

In In Our Hands, Arem tells eleven extraordinary stories of the people he has treated in his practice: a boy with a birth defect for whom he fashions opposable thumbs; an elderly woman whose bizarre paralysis he recognizes as psychosomatic, leading to a cure; a man whose spirit remains intact despite the loss of both feet and one hand to Jim Henson's disease.

Each case study contains fascinating details on surgical techniques and treatments and reveals the day-to-day heroism of both doctors and patients. Above all, In Our Hands evokes the deepest issues of the relationship of the hand to the heart and human identity.

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