As an athlete who has broken many bones and had a variety of sports-related injuries, New Rochelle High School senior Sophia Pak felt compelled to focus her Science Research Program project on hand fractures and the potential prevention of surgical complications.
“I have broken my hand multiple times during sports, and my research focuses on metacarpal (hand) fractures,” said Pak. “Moreover, I have broken my fifth metacarpal (pinky finger bone), and this bone specifically is what my research emphasized.”
According to Pak, “malrotation” is the most common complication of metacarpal fracture surgery, and the fifth metacarpal is the most commonly fractured. The goal of her research was to find a numerical trend between the head (top of the bone) and shaft (skinny part of the bone) of healthy metacarpal, in order to prevent malrotation during surgeries.
Pak’s mentor, Dr. Omri Ayalon, took X-ray images of healthy metacarpal from a cadaver lab and Pak conducted measurements on the head and shaft of the fifth metacarpals.
“I divided these measurements to find the trend in the form of a percentile,” said Pak. “I found a mean trend of 72.7%. This research allows for surgeons to have a checkpoint during surgical fixation of the fifth metacarpal to minimize malrotation as a complication, advancing metacarpal surgeries while minimizing complications.”
Pak said that she thoroughly enjoyed her experience in the Science Research Program and the many lessons it taught her.
“I was able to immerse myself in the science topic of my choice (orthopedics), while no other class provided this opportunity,” said Pak. “Further, I learned many professional skills, such as resume writing, participating in an internship, and public speaking.”