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AFIRM: Research Areas: Limb and Digit Salvage

Limb and Digit Salvage

The injuries to arms and legs following blast injuries and severe civilian trauma often result in the loss of large regions of tissue in the middle portion of the limb, disrupting the healing and use of the hand or foot.

Despite many advances in reconstructive surgery, current methods to reconstruct these tissues are inadequate in many settings. Presently, when preservation, repair or regeneration of these "bridging" tissues cannot be reliably achieved, an amputation of the arm or lower leg below the injured area becomes the best and only option to allow and individual to return to function. The AFIRM is dedicated to developing new regenerative medicine therapies for helping save and rebuild injured limbs.

Saving the limb, also referred to as "limb salvage", at minimum requires preservation or restoration of:

  1. bridging bone healing to reestablish a strong connection and mobility alone the entire limb
  2. bridging soft tissues, such as tendon and ligament, to lend stability and enable movement
  3. healthy skin to cover the injured area to provide a durable barrier to infection

The AFIRM Limb Salvage Program will focus on using new technologies in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering to provide surgeons with advanced tools and new options for repair and regeneration of these critical bridging tissues. The goal is to allow victims of severe military or civilian trauma to be able to recover from their injuries more rapidly, more reliably and also retain their limb as they return to productive life.



Graphic showing the processes used for limb and digit salvage

Images by M. Yaszemski, MD, PhD, Mayo Clinic, D. Anderson, PhD, MIT, and R. Langer, PhD, MIT

Last Modified Date: 05 Mar 2010