Doctors hope a Scottsdale man who severed his spine in a dirt bike accident will regain the ability to walk after becoming the first-ever patient to undergo a groundbreaking new spinal cord surgery.
Surgeons at the Barrow Neurological Institute implanted a scaffolding-like device that they hope will act as a bridge across the injured portion of Jordan Fallis’ spinal cord in an attempt to heal it, Fox 10 reported.
The 25-year-old lost all feeling below his waist, but aside from severing his spine did not sustain a head injury in the fall. Doctors determined he was the perfect candidate for the surgery, which thus far has only been performed on rats and monkeys.
“What we did for this patient is really the first time that this has been done in a human being, which is implant a biosynthetic, biomaterial scaffold in the spinal cord,” Dr. Nicholas Theodore, chief of surgery at Barrow Neurological Institute, told Fox 10.
“The scaffolding acts as a conduit along which cells can grow and healing can occur. So it’s like an internal Band-Aid,” Theodore told 3TV.
The device is made of a complex sugar, rather than plastic, and dissolves on its own, according to 3TV.
The surgery was performed in mid-October, and doctors are not sure when the feeling may return to Fallis’ legs.
“There’s no telling [if or] when you’re going to get feeling in your legs in six months, that’s not the case, nobody knows,” Fallis said. [
For now, Fallis has a routine of working out with both physical and occupational therapists as he and his doctors wait out the surgery’s results.
Whatever the outcome, Fallis is optimistic about his return to the sport he loves.
“I love riding dirt bikes, sailing through the air, doing tricks. That is a passion of mine and I love doing it, so this isn’t going to stop me,” he told Fox 10.