Nerve transfers for restoration of upper limb function in tetraplegia
The aims of this project are to:
1) conduct a prospective series of single case studies of nerve transfer surgery to reanimate paralysed hand muscles in patients with tetraplegia;
2) implement and refine a standardised protocol for clinical and neurophysiological assessment and post-operative therapy;
3) evaluate the outcomes and cost-benefit of nerve transfers.
Fifteen patients with a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury between C5 and C7, who are deemed suitable for surgery by the Austin Health Upper Limb Program Team will be evaluated. Participants will undergo thorough clinical and neurophysiological assessment pre-operatively and for up to 24 months post-operatively. Histological examination of donor and recipient nerves and muscles will also be undertaken. Post-operative management includes intensive occupational therapy to learn to control the reanimated muscle movement. Clinical assessments will include a range of functional tests and the Health Utilities Index Mark 3. This project will result in a refined set of criteria for patient eligibility and post-operative procedures for nerve transfer surgery in the future.
Ms Cathy Cooper
ISCRR (Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research)
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