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Most children with symbrachydactyly can do all the usual things children do because they have enough hand function or gain enough function with treatment.

Mild symbrachydactyly may not need any treatment at all. Some children need occupational therapy or surgery to improve use of their hand. Your child’s doctors will tailor treatment to your child’s needs.

Symbrachydactyly Treatment Options

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists (OTs) teach your child skills to take care of themselves, such as how to eat and how to get dressed. They also work with your child to develop fine motor skills, such as writing.

Even if your child’s smaller hand doesn’t work well on its own, your child can use it to assist their other hand. OTs help children learn the best ways to use their hands together.

Many tools (adaptive devices) may help your child do things on their own. OTs suggest these tools and teach your child how to use them.

Surgery

The main goal of surgery is to improve your child’s ability to grasp and pinch. Surgery may also make your child’s hand look more typical, but it will not look just like a typical hand.

Your child’s team may recommend one or more of these treatments if it is likely to improve your child’s function:

  • Surgery to divide webbed fingers. Read more on the page about treatment for syndactyly.
  • Phalangeal transfer. The surgeon removes bones (phalanges, fah-LAN-jeez) from your child’s toes and places them inside the skin nubbins on your child’s hand. This way your child can grip by pressing their thumb against their fingers. Only one bone is taken from each toe, which doesn’t impair your child’s walking.
  • Distraction. Later, after the bones of a phalangeal transfer have grown, the surgeon may be able to lengthen these bones. The surgeon cuts through the bone. Metal pins and rods are used to move the pieces of bone away from each other (distraction) slowly over many weeks. The surgeon fills the gap with a bone graft, often taken from the child’s hip.

The timing of surgery varies. Your child’s team will make a plan based on your child’s needs. After any surgery, the doctor will want your child to come back for follow-up visits to make sure they are healing well.

Prostheses

Prostheses are devices that replace missing body parts. These may be an option to help with the way your child’s hand works or looks.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)