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Alien Hand Syndrome

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Dear Life Coach,

I have been experiencing unusual and involuntary movements of my right hand lately. Recently I was out with my sister-in-law and my right hand went out of control and slapped her on her buttocks. I was so embarrassed I did not know what to do, and so I said I’m sorry, excuse me, it was an accident, and then I went to the bathroom. Since that day I have noticed an increase in these random right hand acts. Now, I don’t know if I can go anywhere or meet new people, lest my rogue hand hurts someone or shames me.{{more}}

Rogue Hand (RH)

Dear RH,

You are embarrassed and have begun to isolate yourself because your right hand is out of control.

Your situation

Here are some factors that have contributed to your present situation: Alien Hand Syndrome – definition, causes, and treatment. I will address these briefly.

Definition

Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS) refers to a rare disorder in which an individual experiences spontaneous hand movements which is due to a neurological defect.

Causes

The root of AHS is usually biological, such as a stroke, infection, tumour, aneurysm or other types of brain injury or condition which create a disconnection between thought and action to the extent that the hand feels foreign to the individual, because he or she is unable to execute purposeful actions with this part of his or her anatomy.

What to Do

Treatment

At present there is no cure for the Alien Hand Syndrome. However, there are some techniques that may help to reduce the movement of the hand that is affected, including the following:

  • Occupying the hand with an item such as an umbrella or cane if you are going out
  • Keeping your hands clasped together or holding an object if you are doing nothing
  • Using warm water to soothe your hand
  • Massaging your hand on a regular basis.

Seek medical attention

You clearly have a neurological disorder and you should see your doctor immediately for a thorough evaluation, so that co-morbid conditions can also be treated.

Spontaneous recovery

There are different types of Alien Hand Syndrome based on the region of the brain affected. In some cases the brain is able to recover spontaneously and the control of the alien hand is recovered over time (a year or more), specifically when the brain injury is confined to one cerebral hemisphere (one of the two symmetrical halves of the brain).

Feelings of embarrassment  

It is understandable that you feel embarrassed because you do not know what your hand will do next and you want to keep away from everyone and everything as a result. Please understand, however, that this is an illness and there is nothing for you to be ashamed of. Although unfortunate, difficult situations are a part of life and hopefully individuals around you will be mature about it and not tease or taunt you. You did not ask for such an ailment on yourself, but it happened. So, be careful not to blame yourself and also seek the help that you need.  

Enlist the support of family and friends

It is important for you to confide in your family and friends, as you will need their support in order to deal with this trying situation. Maybe you could share with one person who is closest to you first. If you isolate yourself, you are likely to become depressed and your mental health will be jeopardized.

Pray and be hopeful

Since there is a chance for spontaneous recovery, pray and be hopeful that you will be one of those fortunate persons whose hand-control is restored.

A place of acceptance

If over a reasonable period of time and based on your doctor’s evaluation there is no sign of recovery, you will need to come to a place of acceptance concerning your Alien Hand. It is hard to ask someone to accept something like this, but it will be essential that you do. In other words, you will need to come to the place where you can say, “I have an Alien Hand” and know that it is okay, and that you are okay. That life goes on and you work around it and make yourself as happy as you can be. This is what we call coping – making the adjustments to life’s difficult (or pleasant) circumstances and move forward and still be okay. Otherwise, life will become sad and you will become dejected as you focus negatively on your hand and exclude yourself from living fully. At the same time, it is acknowledged that this is not easy and it requires some effort.  

RH, it is my prayer that those around you will give you the love and support that you need and deserve and that you will heal automatically. Best wishes.

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach, Dr Adams, a licensed clinical psychologist. Please note that all correspondence to the Life Coach is confidential and the cases presented are modified in order to maintain the anonymity of each writer. Dynamic Action Centre International Inc (DYNACII) is a non-governmental organization, committed to social and spiritual empowerment. For more information on DYNACII please visit: http://www.dynacii.com

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