By crossing the nerves, Australian surgeons managed to restore the ability of the arm and arm to move in the case of paralyzed patients, allowing them to eat independently and use tools. Whole normal operation has not been restored yet, but doctors say pioneer surgery is changing the lives of patients – BBC News said.
Injuries to the spine stop the path from the brain to the rest of the body, causing paralysis. All four limbs of the 13 patients involved in the research were affected by paralysis, ie they suffered from quadriplasia but were able to move some muscles of their arms. The nerves in these muscles that were carried into the spinal cord were directed from the spinal cord.
The nerves were cut and attached to nerves that were directed to other muscles, such as those that were responsible for arm excision or for folding and opening the hand. For example, the nerves that once directed the palm toward the ceiling were then responsible for stretching the fingers. So when patients are now thinking of turning their hands, they open their fingers.
“Nerve transplantation has been done for a long time, but it has not been used much in the case of spinal cord injury. We believe that nerve transplantation creates exciting new opportunities. “It’s easy to get involved in family life and work,” said Natasha van Zyl, an employee at Austin Health, Melbourne.
Doctors have pointed out that they are not trying to restore the very finely coordinated movement of the hand, mainly focusing on two areas, the opening and closing of the hand, and the stretching of the elbow so that the patients can reach something. “That’s how they can open their hands, raise and grab something close, and pinch it,” said van Zyl.
If the injury on the spine is so high that it causes complete paralysis, there is no functioning nerve that can be diverted. And if the injury occurs at lower vertebrae and paralysis does not affect the arms, no intervention is needed.
Scientists say 250,000 people a year suffer from spinal cord injury and become quadriplast worldwide. So there are many people who can benefit from the method, says Zyl.
However, success is not always guaranteed. According to a study published in the Lancet scientific paper, 56 patients underwent 56 nerve transplants. In four cases, surgery failed.
The intervention is most successful if performed within 6-12 months after the original injury.