Surgeons in Australia have managed to restore arm functions in paralysed patients, allowing them to feed themselves, use tools and do movements.
It is the largest ever application of a technique known as nerve transfer surgery and was done on Thirteen young adults who had suffered spinal injuries, which rendered them paralysed. They underwent several operations and intense physiotherapy to get the functions back.
A team of surgeons succeeded in attaching individual nerves from above the zone of the spinal injury to nerves below the trauma site. The functioning nerves were then used to stimulate paralysed muscles below the injury zone.
The team conducted 59 nerve transfers, with each nerve transfer taking around two hours of painstaking reconstruction.
Two years after the procedure most participants in the trial were able to reach out their arms, open and close their palms and manipulate objects.
-‘It is being considered as a Major advance' -
"Nerve transfers have been around for a long time but they weren't really being used for spinal chord injury before," said one of the surgeons.
Prior to surgery none of the patients were able to do a grasp.
Two years after the surgery they scored high enough to perform most daily activities, including brushing their teeth and writing.
"To all the people in the world who have spinal cord injury and to all the people who treat them, the message is 'it is possible to restore hand function and elbow function'," said the team.
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