Double free gracilis transfer (DFGT) procedures introduced by Doi et al have resulted in significant improvement in maintaining functional prehensile hand after total brachial plexus injury (TBPI). However, not all patients with satisfactory recovery of finger motion could improve their prehensile function. The use of reconstructed hand in daily activities was examined retrospectively to plan individual grip function, depending on the patient’s own demand.
Thirty patients who had had reconstruction with DFGT procedures were evaluated retrospectively according to total active motion (TAM), power grip, hook grip, and pinch function. Power grip was evaluated by holding a bottle and hook grip by lifting a weight. Only 11 patients (36%) had very light pulp-to-pulp pinch, 11 (36%) had power grip, and 25 (83%) had hook grip. The mean weight that could be carried by hook grip was 1.3 kg. The mean TAM was 43 degrees. Pain sensation was the only encouraging sensation recovery, radiating to the chest.
Fine movements of the hand like pinching require well-developed exquisite control of movements. TBPI patients have the contralateral normal limb, which they always prefer, only using their reconstructed hand when the activity requires both hands, such as when holding a bottle to open its cap or lifting bags when the contralateral normal hand is already engaged. For performance of these actions, hook grip and power grip are the useful prehensile hand functions that can be obtained after DFGT. Selection of grip functions should be done according to patient needs, and the late-stage reconstructive hand operations should be decided according to preferred grip function.