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Nervous System Health

Paralyzed man has limited use of his hand restored

brain neuron

A 71-year-old paralyzed man had limited use of his hand restored after surgeons re-wired his nerves to build a new communication route between his brain and his hand, the BBC News reported.

The man had been in a car accident almost five years ago, in which his spinal cord was damaged at the base his neck – rendering him unable to walk.  He still retained the ability to move his arms, but he could not grip with his hands.

Because the nerves in his hand were not damaged in the crash, surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine were able to bypass the spinal cord by taking one of the brain’s nerves that leads to a muscle and attaching it to a nerve in the hand, called the anterior interosseous nerve.

This way, the brain can give instructions to the hand directly, without the need of the spinal cord.

Ida Fox, an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University, told the BBC that it was a "really novel" and "refreshingly resourceful" way of restoring movement.  But Fox also said that normal function would never be fully restored.

Click for more from the BBC News.