In World War I, it was generally known that traumatic hand injuries had poor outcomes since, in part, there was no systematic way of managing the injury. In World War II, the US Army Surgeon General, Major General Norman T. Kirk, knew of these poor outcomes and decided to ask Dr. Sterling Bunnell, who had experience and expertise in hand reconstruction surgery, to educate and train military surgeons on methods of hand surgery. Although originally a military decision to improve hand surgery outcomes, knowledge of hand injuries and conditions is still vital to limit functional disability.
Traditionally, musculoskeletal medicine has not received the attention that it requires in medical schools. In an age when there is a growing number of elderly patients requiring musculoskeletal care, more emphasis is needed in educating medical students about these conditions. Although hand surgery may not receive much attention in the medical school curriculum, it is just as important as any debilitating spine, hip, and knee condition. The hand is perhaps most susceptible to traumatic injuries since we use it ceaselessly. Intricate, delicate, and strong, but prone to severely disabling injuries and conditions, hand injuries can significantly lower the patient’s quality of life. Therefore, it is important that medical students and doctors understand the basics of hand pathophysiology.
Our roles as surgeons, researchers, and educators, are to continue the task started by Dr. Bunnell. This book attempts to explain hand injuries and conditions to the younger generation in a way that is both engaging and educational. It is the result of a collaboration of some of today’s leading hand surgeons in the US. Effort was made to emphasize key concepts of a condition. The diseases described are those that are most commonly encountered in medical practice. It is our hope that students use this book as a learning tool and also as a reference during their studies at medical school and residency, and throughout their medical careers, regardless of specialty.
Dawn LaPorte, MD
Vice Chairman, Education
Residency Program Director, Orthopaedic Surgery
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Charles Day, MD
Associate Professor, Orthopedic Surgery
Director of the Orthopaedic Curriculum
Harvard Medical School
Chief, Hand & Upper Extremity service
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center