24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Most Cyclists Suffering Head Injuries Not Wearing Helmets: StudyLinks Between Smog, 2nd Pregnancies and Preterm BirthHeartburn Drug Zantac May Contain Small Amounts of Known Carcinogen, FDA SaysCDC Revises Number of Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses to 380 in 36 StatesKidney Transplants Safe When Donors Had Hepatitis CLung Cancer Screening Can Detect Other Smoking IllsIs Your State One of the 'Most Obese' in America?How to Keep Your Bones Strong and Prevent FracturesHeart Attack Can Be More Lethal If Symptoms Are More GradualHealth Tip: Understanding MononucleosisNew Strain of Strep Causing Cases of Scarlet FeverHow to Fight Hidden Causes of InflammationFDA Approves First Treatment for ILD With Systemic Sclerosis, SclerodermaOccasional Naps Do a Heart Good, Swiss Study FindsA 'Supercool' Breakthrough for Patients Awaiting Liver TransplantTreatment for Very-Preterm Infants May Lead to Antibiotic ResistanceWhy Weight Gain Often Comes With AgeNew Prosthetic Leg Can Feel Touch, Reduce 'Phantom Limb' PainThe Alexander Technique: What Could It Do for You?Drink Coffee, Avoid Gallstones?Dark Skin No Protection Against Sun's Harmful RaysSome People Vaccinated Against Mumps May Not Be Protected: StudyDiabetes Control Has Stalled Across U.S.Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses Double, Vitamin E Acetate Leading Suspect'First Responders' on 9/11 Face Lingering Heart Woes, Study FindsHealth Officials Close in on Culprit in Vaping Lung Injury CasesGoing Vegetarian Good for Your Heart, But May Up Stroke RiskEven Small Improvements in Cholesterol, Blood Pressure Help Prevent Heart AttackHealth Tip: Signs of GallstonesHigh Post-Hospital Death Rate Trails Ebola SurvivorsClues to Why Epileptic Seizures Can Halt BreathingWhat Works Best Against Varicose Veins?Poor Circulation in Legs? Statin Meds Can Keep You Living LongerHurricane Dorian Can Wreak Havoc on Heart HealthMore CT, MRI Scans Being Used, Despite Calls to Cut BackDrop the Pop: Soda Tied to Higher Risk of Early DeathCould You Be Having a Heart Attack?Body's Natural Chemicals May Help Protect 9/11 Responders' Health: StudyObese Teen Boys More Prone to Heart Attacks in Middle AgeWeight-Loss Surgery Drops Heart Disease, Death Risk for DiabeticsHealth Tip: Managing a Poison Ivy RashFor Men, Living Alone May Mean Poorer Control of Blood-Thinning MedsLifestyle May Matter More Than Your Genes in Early Heart DiseaseAfter Heart Attack, Stenting More Than the Blocked Artery May Be BestLong-Term 'Couch Potatoes' May Face Double the Odds for Early DeathHow Heart Health Factors May Affect Your Parkinson's RiskDonor Organs Often There for Patients in Need, But Doctors Say NoAs Lung Injury Cases Rise, CDC Says 'Don't Vape'Health Tip: Preventing Kidney StonesE-Scooters Plus Drinking: A Fast-Pass to the ER?
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Surgeons Give 13 Paralyzed Adults Hand, Arm Movement

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jul 5th 2019

new article illustration

FRIDAY, July 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Thirteen paralyzed young adults have regained elbow and hand movement after undergoing complex surgery in Australia, surgeons report.

The patients now brush their hair and teeth, feed themselves and put on makeup -- tasks that were impossible before the "nerve transfer" surgery, the doctors report in the July 4 issue of The Lancet medical journal.

"For people with tetraplegia [paralysis of upper and lower limbs], improvement in hand function is the single most important goal," said study leader Dr. Natasha van Zyl, of Austin Health in Melbourne.

"Stem cells and neuroprostheses could change the landscape of regenerative medicine in the future," noted Dr. Ida Fox of Washington University in St. Louis.

But, "for now, nerve transfers are a cost-effective way to harness the body's innate capability to restore movement in a paralyzed limb," said Fox in an editorial accompanying the new study.

The patients underwent extensive physical therapy after the procedure. Two years out, they are using electronic devices and tools, and handling money and credit cards, according to the report.

The restored elbow movement improved their ability to move their wheelchair and to get into bed or a car, the authors said.

The study included 16 young adults (average age 27) with paralysis of the upper and lower limbs due to spinal cord injuries suffered within the previous 18 months. Most of the injuries occurred in sports or motor vehicle crashes.

The patients underwent single or multiple nerve transfers in one or both arms. Surgeons took nerves from functioning expendable muscles above the spinal injury and attached them to paralyzed muscles below the spinal injury.

Altogether, 59 nerve transfers were completed in 13 men and three women and a total of 27 limbs. In 10 patients, nerve transfers were combined with tendon transfers to improve hand function.

The patients were assessed before surgery, and one and two years afterward. Two patients did not complete the follow-up, and one died of causes unrelated to the surgery.

At the two-year assessment, the patients showed major improvements in the ability to pick up and release objects.

The results suggest that nerve transfers can provide improvements similar to traditional tendon transfers, but with smaller incisions and shorter immobilization times after surgery, according to the researchers.

One hand surgeon who wasn't involved in the trial said these types of operations have been used for years in other contexts.

"Nerve transfers have been used for the past decade for multiple conditions with excellent results," explained Dr. Steven Beldner. He helps direct the New York Hand and Wrist Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

This type of surgery appears to work when spinal cord injuries are involved, as well, Bender said. As he explained, "most muscles have multiple nerve branches controlling the same muscle function. [In these surgeries] some of these muscle branches are transferred to other muscles, which have lost their voluntary control due to nerve injury."

However, the Australian team stressed that the operation isn't foolproof. Four nerve transfers failed in three patients, and the researchers said further study is needed to determine which patients are the best candidates for nerve transfer surgery.

"We believe that nerve transfer surgery offers an exciting new option, offering individuals with paralysis the possibility of regaining arm and hand functions to perform everyday tasks, and giving them greater independence and the ability to participate more easily in family and work life," van Zyl said in a journal news release.

"What's more, we have shown that nerve transfers can be successfully combined with traditional tendon transfer techniques to maximize benefits," van Zyl said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on spinal cord injury.