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7th September 2023

New research helps identify optimal treatment for severed tendons

Health and Care Research Wales Research Delivery Team, along with Swansea Bay University Health Board’s plastic surgery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy teams, have been taking part in the multi-centre randomised control trial for severed tendons since January this year.

Twenty five groups across the UK, including two Morriston Hospital based therapy teams, are taking part in the FIRST research study which aims to identify the most effective post-operative splinting and rehabilitation regime for patients following flexor tendon injury to the fingers.

Finger tendons can easily be cut in everyday accidents with knives or glass, but severed tendons are not able to heal by themselves, and require surgery.

Agricultural and industrial workers with injured hands are often treated at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital, along with people injured in domestic accidents.

Participants in the clinical trial are allocated to a treatment group at random and the functional outcomes of their recovery are assessed over a twelve-month period. Recruitment will continue until January 2024 with a target of 30 participants.

The study outcomes will provide essential evidence on the optimal treatment regime for patients following flexor tendon injury in the future.

Amanda Kyle, an advanced practitioner occupational therapist in burns and plastic surgery said: “Cut tendons do not heal by themselves and need surgical repair. Morriston Hospital is unique in that the Plastic Surgery Centre is the only one in Wales. Across South Wales we have lots of manual workers in industry or agriculture, so we see a high number of these injuries.

“Most clinical trials for this type of injury are very small. This study is unique as it is a multi-centre trial which increases the numbers.”

The research project is being led by the Pulvertaft Hand Centre in Derby and Sheffield University, and is supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

research study team for severed tendons