In the sweet melodies of an irenic night, the only thought that stings is if we are alone in this hefty universe. Do we exist in solitude? Or, are we mere disposables for an external force; an Alien Hand perhaps?
Surprisingly, there exists a strange condition in the medical world that resonates with such a thought. It goes by the name Alien Hand Syndrome.
Alien Hand Syndrome describes a state where a person loses control of his hand. It behaves as if it has a mind of its own. Of course, it is not because of some alien force. Various etiologies for this condition are neurosurgery, tumor, aneurysms and sometimes stroke.
Case Of a Woman With Alien Hand Syndrome
A 77 year old woman suffered from chronic atrial fibrillation. She discontinued her anticoagulants on a temporary basis for a spine surgery. Two days later while watching T.V, she noticed her left hand moving across her visual field. She did not have any control over it. The hand caressed her face and hair without will. This happened for 30 minutes straight.
Upon regaining control, her left upper limb felt very weak. Her husband rushed her to hospital. On her way to the car, her husband noticed she was dragging her left leg too.
Scenes at The Hospital
Doctors conducted both CT Scan and MRI of the woman’s brain. Imaging showed acute infarcts in both parietal cortexes. However, transthoracic and trans-esophageal echocardiograms did not reveal any thrombus.
The woman regained complete control over her left limb after 6 hours. She was diagnosed with stroke secondary to cardio-embolism. Fortunately, she was discharged quick with an advice to never skip her anticoagulants.
Understanding How an Alien Hand Works
Normally, motor movements are initiated through coordinated and complex neural networks. But in Alien Hand Syndrome, there is solitary activation of contralateral primary motor cortex. This causes involuntary movements with loss of perception for these movements.
The Woman’s Case
The syndrome can develop after a tumor, aneurysms and neurosurgery. However, this is perhaps the first case where the condition manifested after a cardio-embolic strike. Also, this is the shortest of such cases (only 30 minutes) that have surfaced so far.