Doctors Rewire Nerves In Paralyzed Man. Can Now Move Hand Again
May 16, 2012 12:27
Here's a breakthrough for people suffering from paralysis. A 71 year old paralyzed in 2008 from a car accident has regained motor function in his hands. Washington University doctors have rewired his nerves to bypass the damaged ones. The patient had previously been able to move his arms, but he had lost the ability to pinch and grab with his fingers. Until now.
The BBC says that the healthy nerve path led to an arm muscle was taken and attached to the anterior interosseous nerve which leads to the hand.
Ida Fox, an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University, told the BBC: "The circuit [in the hand] is intact, but no longer connected to the brain.
"What we do is take that circuit and restore the connection to the brain."
In eight months of training, the patient can now pick up utensil and write a little. The medical staff expect the condition to improve but don't believe he'll be able to regain full function of his hands, and definitely not his legs. Nonetheless, its a breakthrough, seeing that there's a potential future in applying complex techniques and breakthroughs that could someday lead to restoring movement and feeling all over the body. [Journal of Neurosurgery via BBC]
Wired has published a very nice feature on Kip Thorne and the science behind Chris Nolan's Interstellar. Kip Thorne is one of the world's most celebrated theoretical physicists. He and Nolan worked together to ensure depictions of scientific happenings in the film are as accurate as possible. Read more