What is Alien Hand Syndrome?

Alien Hand Syndrome is a mysterious neurological disorder in which the hand of an individual acts involuntarily on its own without the involvement of the affected individual. The affected hand tends to act as if somebody else is controlling the actions of the hand and hence this disorder gets the name of Alien Hand Syndrome.

Some studies suggest that Alien Hand Syndrome arises as a result of a complex brain surgery done to treat acute and severe cases of epilepsy. Some studies also associate Alien Hand Syndrome with occurrence of a stroke or a CVA. Dr. Strangeglove Syndrome is another name given to Alien Hand Syndrome.

What is Alien Hand Syndrome?

What Causes Alien Hand Syndrome?

The exact cause of Alien Hand Syndrome is not yet known but it is believed to be caused due to a brain injury in the parts of the brain that deals with motor control. The specific parts of the brain associated with Alien Hand Syndrome when damaged are:

Corpus Callosum: Studies suggest that damage to this part of the brain due to an injury may result in symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome in the nondominant hand.

Frontal Lobe: This is a part of the brain that deals with motor control of the body and hence if there is an injury to this part of the brain then it may result in symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome. The affected hand may start grasping objects of its own free will without any involvement or intention of the affected individual.

Parietal and Occipital Lobes: Damage to these parts of the brain can also manifest symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome?

The classic presenting feature of Alien Hand Syndrome is the involuntary movement of one hand or both hands without the will and intention of the individual to use or move it in any way. Although the affected individual may feel that the hands are still a part of their body but it is just that they are being controlled by someone else. The affected hand may start to grasp objects or drop objects of its own free will without any involvement of the patient.

The symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome are:

  • The affected hand does an action which the patient is totally unaware of
  • The patient becomes aware of the situation when it is brought to the notice of the patient
  • The patient may have a scary feeling as if they have been possessed or their hands are being controlled by someone else

How is Alien Hand Syndrome Treated?

As of now, there is no cure for Alien Hand Syndrome as there is no distinct cause identified for this condition. Treatment is mostly supportive with the aim of reducing the involuntary movements of the affected hand with the hopes of having full control of the hand. This is basically done by giving the patient some sort of exercises to do in order to restore voluntary control of the hands. Specific tasks may be given to the patient to perform with the affected hand so as to facilitate voluntary control of the hand and thus reduce the involuntary actions that the hand does as a result of Alien Hand Syndrome.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 5, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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