Nerve transfer surgery restores hand function and elbow extension

Australian surgeons have restored hand and elbow function in 13 young adults with complete quadriplegia by attaching functioning nerves above the spinal injury to paralysed nerves below the injury. 

Two years after the operation, and following intensive physical therapy, the patients were able to straighten their arm and have enough hand function to perform everyday tasks, such as feeding themselves, brushing teeth and hair, putting on make-up, writing, handling money and credit cards, and using tools and electronic devices.

The findings suggest that nerve transfers can achieve similar functional improvements to traditional tendon transfers, with the benefit of smaller incisions and shorter immobilisation times after surgery. The nerve transfer technique also resulted in finer, more natural hand movement than that achieved by tendon transfers.

Published in The Lancet here.

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Nerve transfer surgery restores hand function and elbow extension