As the same suggests, it is an uncommon neurological condition that causes a person’s hand to act independently of their cognitive awareness or will (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Hands play a vital role in our everyday lives, managing a wide array of tasks that structure our daily routines. They serve as versatile tools for fostering connections, communication, and creativity. But, what if we encounter a situation where we lose control over their movements? What if our hands start acting independently of our intentions?
That’s exactly what happens when a person is diagnosed with ‘alien hand syndrome’ (AHS). As the same suggests, it is an uncommon neurological condition that causes a person’s hand to act independently of their cognitive awareness or will.
“The affected hand frequently behaves opposite to the person’s intentions and seems to operate independently. This phenomenon has the potential to cause severe distress and disruption in daily life,” Dr Vipul Gupta, chief of Neurointerventional Surgery and Co-Chief, Stroke Unit, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, said.
The name “alien hand syndrome” refers to the perception that an outside force is in control of the affected hand’s actions as if the hand had a “mind of its own.” There is a sense of detachment and lack of ownership over the affected limb since it seems as though the affected hand is functioning autonomously.
Before we get to the statistics, it is crucial to understand what causes this extremely rare but dangerous condition. For that, we need to know that there are two parts of our brain — the right side and left side — and these parts are connected via some white matter fibres or white matter gateways.
“Whenever there is damage to these gateways or these pathways, known as the corpus callosum, then both the hands start acting independently in many patients,” Dr Himanshu Champaneri, senior consultant, neurosurgery, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Gurugram said.
The expert said that this can occur because of a variety of conditions. “It can be because of a tumour in such an area or it can be because of stroke or damage to the gateway or the connecting areas or it can be a result of cardioembolic stroke. A patient who has suffered a stroke, especially damage to these areas is more likely to experience alien hand syndrome,” Dr Champaneri added.
Agreeing, Dr Raghuram G, additional director, neurosurgery, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru said that alien hand syndrome arises due to a problem in the brain. “The commonest reason is a stroke of a specific area of the brain. The syndrome can also be caused by tumours of the frontal part of the brain or abnormality of the blood vessels of the brain. It is seen in degenerative conditions of the brain like specific types of Parkinson’s disease,” he said.