Functional Impact of Congenital Hand Differences: Early Results From the Congenital Upper Limb Differences (CoULD) Registry

J Hand Surg Am. 2018 Apr;43(4):321-330. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


Purpose: To characterize the functional, emotional, and social impact of congenital upper limb differences on affected children and families before treatment, using validated functional outcome instruments.

Methods: From June 2014 to March 2016, 586 children with congenital upper limb differences from 2 pediatric hospitals were enrolled in the Congenital Upper Limb Differences registry. Demographic, clinical, and radiographic data were collected, and diagnoses categorized according to the Oberg-Manske-Tonkin classification. Functional outcomes were assessed in 301 patients using the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI) and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) upper extremity (UE) function, pain, anxiety, depression, and peer relationships modules.

Results: The cohort had high median PODCI scores in all domains, ranging from 83 to 100 in children and adolescents. Patients had decreased PROMIS UE scores compared with population norms; however, they showed low scores for pain, anxiety, depression and higher scores in the peer relationship domain, respectively. Patients with entire limb involvement had higher PROMIS pain scores and lower PODCI UE and global functioning than those with differences limited only to the hand. Compared with those with bilateral involvement, patients with unilateral differences reported higher scores for PODCI sports global functioning, better PROMIS UE function, and lower pain scores. Additional orthopedic conditions and medical comorbidities negatively influenced all PODCI scores and PROMIS pain and UE function domains.

Conclusions: Children with congenital hand differences report decreased upper limb function but better peer relationships and positive emotional states compared with population norms.

Clinical relevance: The Congenital Upper Limb Differences registry is a valid source of information related to congenital upper limb differences in clinical practice. With continuous enrollment and longitudinal follow-up, the registry will increase the understanding of UE function and psychosocial aspects of health in pediatric population.

Keywords: Congenital; function; hand differences; outcomes; registry.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Peer Group
  • Quality of Life
  • Registries
  • United States
  • Upper Extremity Deformities, Congenital / physiopathology*
  • Upper Extremity Deformities, Congenital / psychology*