A landmark nerve surgery enables 13 patients to use their hands again


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By Thomas Mwiraria

Patients with paralysis are not able to move their limb. A task like picking up the phone or perusing through pages of a book is difficult for a paralysis patient. It is hard to adequately feel what it is to be a paralysis patient.

Natasha van Zyl-a Melbourne-based surgeon and her team has given back the lives of 13 young adults who suffered paralysis from a recent traffic and sporting accident.

The surgeon has successfully moved around their nerves using a technique called nerve transfer. She reinstated the patients’ ability to extend, clench, clasp and pinch with their hands.The surgeon believes that many more patients faced with a challenge of paralysis would be able to experience the same benefits.

The details of Van Zyl pioneering nerve surgeries appeared on Lancet Medical Journal on Thursday .The team carried out the procedure by removing functional nerves from the spinal injuries of the 13 Young adults. They proceeded to transfer the nerves into the patient’s paralyzed limbs and enabled the patients to use their limbs.The patients have showed remarkable improvement in their limb function two years after the surgeries, this is according to the paper.

“The first patient had really fabulous results from the surgery…A word got out and we were fairly inundated with people wanting nerve transfers.”Van Zyl told the Guardian.

Paul Robinson, 34, one of the patients terms the surgery “life-changing”.

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