Surgery restores arm function

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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.
Each nerve transfer took around two hours of painstaking reconstruction, and the team conducted 59 overall.Nerve transfers have been around for a long time but they weren´t really being used for spinal chord injury before," Natasha van Zyl, a surgeon at Austin Health in Melbourne, told AFP.
Prior to surgery none of the patients were able to score on grasp or pinch strength tests.
Two years after the surgery they scored high enough to perform most daily activities, including brushing their teeth and writing.
The team stressed that theirs was a small sample size and four nerve transfers procedures failed to improve hand or arm function.
Nor did the surgery have any effect on the patients´ trunk control and they remained wheelchair-bound.
But the surgeons said the technique was a "major advance" in efforts to give people some measure of independence and control back after suffering life-changing injury.
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