Publications by authors named "Anna Pittermann"

11 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Prosthetic Embodiment and Body Image Changes in Patients Undergoing Bionic Reconstruction Following Brachial Plexus Injury.

Front Neurorobot 2021 30;15:645261. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Clinical Laboratory for Bionic Extremity Reconstruction, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Brachial plexus injuries with multiple-root involvement lead to severe and long-lasting impairments in the functionality and appearance of the affected upper extremity. In cases, where biologic reconstruction of hand and arm function is not possible, bionic reconstruction may be considered as a viable clinical option. Bionic reconstruction, through a careful combination of surgical augmentation, amputation, and prosthetic substitution of the functionless hand, has been shown to achieve substantial improvements in function and quality of life. However, it is known that long-term distortions in the body image are present in patients with severe nerve injury as well as in prosthetic users regardless of the level of function. To date, the body image of patients who voluntarily opted for elective amputation and prosthetic reconstruction has not been investigated. Moreover, the degree of embodiment of the prosthesis in these patients is unknown. We have conducted a longitudinal study evaluating changes of body image using the patient-reported Body Image Questionnaire 20 (BIQ-20) and a structured questionnaire about prosthetic embodiment. Six patients have been included. At follow up 2.5-5 years after intervention, a majority of patients reported better BIQ-20 scores including a less negative body evaluation (5 out of 6 patients) and higher vital body dynamics (4 out of 6 patients). Moreover, patients described a strong to moderate prosthesis embodiment. Interestingly, whether patients reported performing bimanual tasks together with the prosthetic hand or not, did not influence their perception of the prosthesis as a body part. In general, this group of patients undergoing prosthetic substitution after brachial plexus injury shows noticeable inter-individual differences. This indicates that the replacement of human anatomy with technology is not a straight-forward process perceived in the same way by everyone opting for it.
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April 2021

Occupational reintegration after severe burn injury: a questionnaire study.

Wien Klin Wochenschr 2021 Jun 28;133(11-12):625-629. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

Clinical Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Background: As a consequence of improved survival rates after burn injury occupational reintegration of burn survivors has gained increasing significance. We aimed to develop a precise patient questionnaire as a tool to evaluate factors contributing to occupational reintegration.

Material And Methods: A questionnaire comprising 20 questions specifically evaluating occupational reintegration was developed under psychological supervision. The single-center questionnaire study was implemented in patients with burn injuries who were admitted to the 6‑bed burn intensive care unit (BICU) of the General Hospital of Vienna, Austria (2004-2013). The questionnaire was sent to burn survivors of working age (18-60 years) with an abbreviated burn severity index (ABSI) of 6 or greater, a total burn surface area (TBSA) of 15% or greater, and a BICU stay of at least 24 h.

Results: A total of 112 burn survivors met the inclusion criteria and were contacted by mail. Of the 112 patients 11 (10%) decided to participate in the study and 218/220 questions (99%) in 11 patients were answered. Out of 11 patients 7 (64%) reported successful return to work and 4 of 11 (36%) did not resume their occupation. Advanced age, longer BICU and hospital stays, higher TBSA, burn at work, lower education, and problems with esthetic appearance seemed to impair patients' return to their occupation.

Conclusion: When implementing the questionnaire, severely burned patients with higher age, lower education, and longer hospital and BICU stay seemed at high risk for failed reintegration in their profession after burn injury.
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June 2021

Rehabilitation of high upper limb amputees after Targeted Muscle Reinnervation.

J Hand Ther 2020 Oct 15. Epub 2020 Oct 15.

Clinical Laboratory for Bionic Extremity Reconstruction, Medical University of Vienna, Austria; Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

Study Design: This is a Delphi study based on a scoping literature review.

Introduction: Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) enables patients with high upper limb amputations to intuitively control a prosthetic arm with up to six independent control signals. Although there is a broad agreement regarding the importance of structured motor learning and prosthetic training after such nerve transfers, to date, no evidence-based protocol for rehabilitation after TMR exists.

Purpose Of The Study: We aimed at developing a structured rehabilitation protocol after TMR surgery after major upper limb amputation. The purpose of the protocol is to guide clinicians through the full rehabilitation process, from presurgical patient education to functional prosthetic training.

Methods: European clinicians and researchers working in upper limb prosthetic rehabilitation were invited to contribute to a web-based Delphi study. Within the first round, clinical experts were presented a summary of recent literature and were asked to describe the rehabilitation steps based on their own experience and scientific evidence. The second round was used to refine these steps, while the importance of each step was rated within the third round.

Results: Experts agreed on a rehabilitation protocol that consists of 16 steps and starts before surgery. It is based on two overarching principles, namely the necessity of multiprofessional teamwork and a careful selection and education of patients within the rehabilitation team. Among the different steps in therapy, experts rated the training with electromyographic biofeedback as the most important one.

Discussion: Within this study, a first rehabilitation protocol for TMR patients based on a broad experts' consensus and relevant literature could be developed. The detailed steps for rehabilitation start well before surgery and prosthetic fitting, and include relatively novel interventions as motor imagery and biofeedback. Future studies need to further investigate the clinical outcomes and thereby improve therapists' practice.

Conclusion: Graded rehabilitation offered by a multiprofessional team is needed to enable individuals with upper limb amputations and TMR to fully benefit from prosthetic reconstruction.

Level Of Evidence: Low.
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October 2020

Psychological Aspects of Breast Reconstruction after Breast Cancer.

Breast Care (Basel) 2019 Oct 24;14(5):298-301. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, General Hospital Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Even though breast cancer mortality is declining, the diagnosis still poses a huge threat for the affected woman and her close family. Breast cancer surgery, which often includes reconstructive procedures, can help restoring a satisfactory body image. The decision on the type of surgery should always be made together with the patient and should focus on her psychosocial needs. This review describes the psychological aspects of breast cancer for the patient and her social environment and offers ideas for a patient-oriented treatment plan.
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October 2019

The provision of specialist psychosocial support for people with visible differences: A European survey.

Body Image 2018 Jun 16;25:35-39. Epub 2018 Feb 16.

Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, BS16 1QY, UK.

A substantial body of research has demonstrated the challenges commonly facing people with visible differences (disfigurements) and explored the potential benefits offered by specialist psychosocial support and intervention for those who are negatively affected. However, little is known about the availability of such support in Europe for people whose appearance is in any way different to 'the norm'. This survey of 116 psychosocial specialists from 15 European countries, working with a range of patient groups, has shown a tendency for specialists to prioritise Cognitive-behavioural-based approaches, amongst a wide range of other approaches and interventional techniques. It indicates variations in the availability of support, and a perceived need for improved access to interventions, additional training, and greater awareness of the psychosocial issues associated with visible differences.
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June 2018

The Vienna psychosocial assessment procedure for bionic reconstruction in patients with global brachial plexus injuries.

PLoS One 2018 3;13(1):e0189592. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Christian Doppler Laboratory for Restoration of Extremity Function, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Background: Global brachial plexopathies cause major sensory and motor deficits in the affected arm and hand. Many patients report of psychosocial consequences including chronic pain, decreased self-sufficiency, and poor body image. Bionic reconstruction, which includes the amputation and prosthetic replacement of the functionless limb, has been shown to restore hand function in patients where classic reconstructions have failed. Patient selection and psychological evaluation before such a life-changing procedure are crucial for optimal functional outcomes. In this paper we describe a psychosocial assessment procedure for bionic reconstruction in patients with complete brachial plexopathies and present psychosocial outcome variables associated with bionic reconstruction.

Methods: Between 2013 and 2017 psychosocial assessments were performed in eight patients with global brachial plexopathies. We conducted semi-structured interviews exploring the psychosocial adjustment related to the accident, the overall psychosocial status, as well as motivational aspects related to an anticipated amputation and expectations of functional prosthetic outcome. During the interview patients were asked to respond freely. Their answers were transcribed verbatim by the interviewer and analyzed afterwards on the basis of a pre-defined item scoring system. The interview was augmented by quantitative evaluation of self-reported mental health and social functioning (SF-36 Health Survey), body image (FKB-20) and deafferentation pain (VAS). Additionally, psychosocial outcome variables were presented for seven patients before and after bionic reconstruction.

Results: Qualitative data revealed several psychological stressors with long-term negative effects on patients with complete brachial plexopathies. 88% of patients felt functionally limited to a great extent due to their disability, and all of them reported constant, debilitating pain in the deafferented hand. After bionic reconstruction the physical component summary scale increased from 30.80 ± 5.31 to 37.37 ± 8.41 (p-value = 0.028), the mental component summary scale improved from 43.19 ± 8.32 to 54.76 ± 6.78 (p-value = 0.018). VAS scores indicative of deafferentation pain improved from 7.8 to 5.6 after prosthetic hand replacement (p-value = 0.018). Negative body evaluation improved from 60.71 ± 12.12 to 53.29 ± 11.03 (p-value = 0.075). Vital body dynamics increased from 38.57 ± 13.44 to 44.43 ± 16.15 (p-value = 0.109).

Conclusions: Bionic reconstruction provides hope for patients with complete brachial plexopathies who have lived without hand function for years or even decades. Critical patient selection is crucial and the psychosocial assessment procedure including a semi-structured interview helps identify unresolved psychological issues, which could preclude or delay bionic reconstruction. Bionic reconstruction improves overall quality of life, restores an intact self-image and reduces deafferentation pain.
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February 2018

Patient satisfaction, body image, and quality of life after lower body lift: a prospective pre- and postoperative long-term survey.

Surg Obes Relat Dis 2017 May 11;13(5):882-887. Epub 2017 Jan 11.

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Background: Body contouring surgery after massive weight loss remains a fast growing field due to the rising number of postbariatric surgery patients, and it can improve patients' quality of life substantially. Patient expectations in these procedures are very high, but only little is known as to whether these procedures have a long lasting influence on body image, patient satisfaction, and quality of life.

Setting: University hospital, Austria.

Methods: We evaluated 40 consecutive female patients who underwent a lower body lift between 2009 and 2013. Patients took part in a prospective pre- and postoperative questionnaire survey inquiring about their psychological and physical wellbeing. The mean postoperative follow up interval was 61±14 months. We used 2 validated (Body Image Questionnaire and Body Appraisal Inventory) and one self-designed questionnaires (body lift follow-up questionnaire). The postoperative response rate in January 2016 was 72.5%.

Results: Lower body lift significantly reduced dismissive body ratings and increased long-term feelings of attractiveness and self-esteem, and significantly reduced discomfort associated with excess skin. Patients reported feeling happier, more attractive, and more self-confident. The procedure enhanced their physical wellbeing, even years after surgery.

Conclusion: Lower body lift satisfied patients' expectations and improved long-term quality of life. Therefore, it is an essential component in the treatment of patients who have experienced massive weight loss.
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May 2017

Algorithm for bionic hand reconstruction in patients with global brachial plexopathies.

J Neurosurg 2017 Nov 17;127(5):1163-1171. Epub 2017 Jan 17.

Christian Doppler Laboratory for Restoration of Extremity Function.

OBJECTIVE Global brachial plexus lesions with multiple root avulsions are among the most severe nerve injuries, leading to lifelong disability. Fortunately, in most cases primary and secondary reconstructions provide a stable shoulder and restore sufficient arm function. Restoration of biological hand function, however, remains a reconstructive goal that is difficult to reach. The recently introduced concept of bionic reconstruction overcomes biological limitations of classic reconstructive surgery to restore hand function by combining selective nerve and muscle transfers with elective amputation of the functionless hand and its replacement with a prosthetic device. The authors present their treatment algorithm for bionic hand reconstruction and report on the management and long-term functional outcomes of patients with global brachial plexopathies who have undergone this innovative treatment. METHODS Thirty-four patients with posttraumatic global brachial plexopathies leading to loss of hand function consulted the Center for Advanced Restoration of Extremity Function between 2011 and 2015. Of these patients, 16 (47%) qualified for bionic reconstruction due to lack of treatment alternatives. The treatment algorithm included progressive steps with the intent of improving the biotechnological interface to allow optimal prosthetic hand replacement. In 5 patients, final functional outcome measurements were obtained with the Action Arm Research Test (ARAT), the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP), and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire. RESULTS In all 5 patients who completed functional assessments, partial hand function was restored with bionic reconstruction. ARAT scores improved from 3.4 ± 4.3 to 25.4 ± 12.7 (p = 0.043; mean ± SD) and SHAP scores improved from 10.0 ± 1.6 to 55 ± 19.7 (p = 0.042). DASH scores decreased from 57.9 ± 20.6 to 32 ± 28.6 (p = 0.042), indicating decreased disability. CONCLUSIONS The authors present an algorithm for bionic reconstruction leading to useful hand function in patients who lack biological treatment alternatives for a stiff, functionless, and insensate hand resulting from global brachial plexopathies.
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November 2017

Elective amputation and bionic substitution restore functional hand use after critical soft tissue injuries.

Sci Rep 2016 10 10;6:34960. Epub 2016 Oct 10.

Institute of Neurorehabilitation Systems, Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology Göttingen, University Medical Center Göttingen, Georg-August University, Von-Siebold-Str. 6, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.

Critical soft tissue injuries may lead to a non-functional and insensate limb. In these cases standard reconstructive techniques will not suffice to provide a useful outcome, and solutions outside the biological arena must be considered and offered to these patients. We propose a concept which, after all reconstructive options have been exhausted, involves an elective amputation along with a bionic substitution, implementing an actuated prosthetic hand via a structured tech-neuro-rehabilitation program. Here, three patients are presented in whom this concept has been successfully applied after mutilating hand injuries. Clinical tests conducted before, during and after the procedure, evaluating both functional and psychometric parameters, document the benefits of this approach. Additionally, in one of the patients, we show the possibility of implementing a highly functional and natural control of an advanced prosthesis providing both proportional and simultaneous movements of the wrist and hand for completing tasks of daily living with substantially less compensatory movements compared to the traditional systems. It is concluded that the proposed procedure is a viable solution for re-gaining highly functional hand use following critical soft tissue injuries when existing surgical measures fail. Our results are clinically applicable and can be extended to institutions with similar resources.
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October 2016

After massive weight loss: patients' expectations of body contouring surgery.

Obes Surg 2012 Apr;22(4):544-8

Divison of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, General Hospital Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Background: Massive weight loss following bariatric surgery leads to excess skin with functional and aesthetic impairments. Surplus skin can then contribute to problems with additional weight loss or gain. The aims of the current study were to evaluate the frequency of massive soft tissue development in gastric bypass patients, to determine whether males and females experience similar post-bypass body changes, and to learn about the expectations and impairments related to body contouring surgery.

Methods: A questionnaire addressing information on the satisfaction of body image, quality of life, and expectation of body contouring surgery following massive weight loss was mailed to 425 patients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery between 2003 and 2009. Of these 425 individuals, 252 (59%) patients completed the survey.

Results: Ninety percent of women and 88% of men surveyed rated their appearance following massive weight loss as satisfactory, good, or very good. However, 96% of all patients developed surplus skin, which caused intertriginous dermatitis and itching. In addition, patients reported problems with physical activity (playing sports) and finding clothing that fit appropriately. Moreover, 75% of female and 68% of male patients reported desiring body contouring surgery. The most important expectation of body contouring surgery was improved appearance, followed by improved self-confidence and quality of life.

Conclusions: Surplus skin resulting from gastric bypass surgery is a common issue that causes functional and aesthetic impairments in patients. Consequently, this increases the desire for body contouring surgery with high expectations for the aesthetic outcome as well as improved life satisfaction.
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April 2012

The prevalence of body contouring surgery after gastric bypass surgery.

Obes Surg 2012 Jan;22(1):8-12

Department of Surgery, Divison of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, General Hospital Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

Background: As bariatric surgery has become more popular, more patients are undergoing body contouring surgery after massive weight loss. Many of the surgical procedures performed on the massive weight loss patient are complex and labor-intensive. Therefore, the plastic surgery unit needs to be prepared for a patient's demand. Little literature is available on how frequently patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery receive body contouring surgery.

Methods: Two hundred fifty-two subjects (out of 425 who were mailed the questionnaire) who had undergone gastric bypass surgery between 2003 and 2009 completed the questionnaire, which obtained information on body image satisfaction and frequency of body contouring surgery after massive weight loss.

Results: Of all patients, 74% desire a body contouring surgery after gastric bypass surgery. Fifty-three patients (21%) have undergone a total of 61 body contouring procedures. The most common were abdominoplasties (59%), followed by lower body lifts (20%). In contrast to a positive judgment of the general aspect of the body image satisfaction after massive weight loss, both genders are unsatisfied with body areas like abdomen/waist, breast, and thighs.

Conclusions: Paralleling the increasing use of bariatric surgery, there is a high demand for body contouring surgery. A huge disparity exists between the number of subjects who desire a body contouring surgery and those who actually received it.
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January 2012