Tag: nerve transfer
Researchers from Australia have successfully “rewired” the nerves within the paralyzed arms of some accident survivors and provided them with successful movement of arms and hands.
The results of the study titled, “Expanding traditional tendon-based techniques with nerve transfers for the restoration of upper limb function in tetraplegia: a prospective case series”, were published in the latest issue of the Lancet.
Innovative technique helps patients with neck injuries
A pioneering surgical technique has restored some hand and arm movement to patients immobilized by spinal cord injuries in the neck, reports a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Like railroad switchmen, the focus is on rerouting passageways; however, instead of trains on a track, the surgeons redirect peripheral nerves in a quadriplegic’s arms and hands by connecting healthy nerves to the injured nerves. Essentially, the new nerve network reintroduces conversation between the brain and the muscles that allows patients, once again, to accomplish tasks that foster independence, such as feeding themselves or writing with a pen.
The loss of hand function is one of the most devastating consequences of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) because of its severe impact on the everyday activities of daily living. Melbourne University Researcher Professor Mary Galea and Ms Natasha van Zyl, one of three specialist surgeons in the Upper Limb Program at Austin Health, supported by the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), are carrying out pioneering research in support of nerve transfer surgery for SCI patients in Victoria. The surgery involves plugging surplus live nerves into nerves that no longer work to reactivate muscles and restore movement in patients’ hands. One of the patients going through the surgery is Joel Sardi.
Q. What is nerve transfer surgery?
A. Nerve transfer is a surgical technique that’s used to restore muscle function or sensation after a serious injury. Employing the technique, surgeons select a redundant nerve — one that serves the same function as another nerve in the body — and connect it to a more important but damaged nerve that’s not working. The nerves must be in close proximity. The rewired nerve can restore muscle function or feeling to the target area, often a hand, arm or shoulder.
A hasty beach dive on Australia Day last year left Jim Anderson a quadriplegic.
“I didn’t do a very good shallow dive. Went in too straight and just hit the bottom,” the 23-year-old Victorian explains.
“It wasn’t really painful. I just couldn’t feel anything.”
The spinal cord injury that paralysed his limbs left him with no hand function and limited elbow movement.
But during rehabilitation, he was offered groundbreaking surgery.