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July 04 , 2008

The Wonder of the Human Hand

Care and Repair of the Body's Most Marvelous Instrument


Using our hands, we interact with the environment in ways that are more sophisticated, more varied, and more productive than any other part of our body. The delicate instrument that is the hand makes it possible for us to knead dough and perform a heart transplant; make contact with strangers, friends, and lovers; throw a baseball; and create a scale model of a skyscraper and build that skyscraper. From the most mundane activity to our most sublime achievement, the hand has helped us shape the world and given us a deeper understanding of our place in it.

In The Wonder of the Human Hand, surgeons and hand specialists from the world-renowned Curtis National Hand Center describe how the hand is used in work, sports, and music, and trace the human fascination with hands in religion and art. They relate awe-inspiring stories of people throughout history—including major league pitcher Jim Abbott, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Liebe Diamond, and pianist Leon Fleisher—who accomplished great things with one hand, or with impaired or injured hands, and they tell of marvelous surgeries that create fingers where none exist.

Recounting how the hand interprets the environment and returns tactile information to the brain, the book underscores the importance of the hand to people who cannot see or hear. Throughout, the authors explore how medical science restores bones, tendons, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels in hands injured through disease, accident, and combat—ever aware of how the form and function of the human hand combine harmoniously in everyday activities and Herculean efforts alike.

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