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Congenital hand differences (CHDs) are a group of anomalies present from birth, such as shortened, fused or missing fingers, or global size reduction of the hand. They may cause serious physical and emotional challenges for a child, particularly through schooling years. CHDs also cause profound parental stress, prompting parents to seek surgery to give their child a ‘normal’ hand. Currently, little is known about the precise factors which cause stress in parents. Although substances harmful to an unborn baby such as Thalidomide are highly newsworthy, most CHDs do not have a specific cause. This uncertainty adds to parental worry.
My summer project seeks to further understand the stress experienced by these parents. Educating parents as to why CHDs occur through an innovative educational tool may reduce parental stress, and allow parents to become more involved in the care of their child by partaking in knowledge-based discussions with the surgeon.
The Carnegie Trust Vacation Scholarship has given me incredible hands-on experience in designing and conducting a patient-focused medical research study, looking at the importance of embryology for parents of children born with congenital hand differences. This opportunity has allowed me to further develop my research skills and has provided me with great networking opportunities with my fellow Scholars.
Awarded: Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship
Field: Medical Sciences
University: University of Edinburgh