New method restores grip function more quickly to patients with tetraplegia

April 10, 2013, University of Gothenburg
New method restores grip function more quickly to patients with tetraplegia
New method restores grip function more quickly to patients with tetraplegia. Credit: University of Gothenburg

A new method in which a number of operations are performed simultaneously can provide people with tetraplegia with a better grip function and the ability to open their hand. This method also shortens the patient's rehabilitation period by at least three months, reveals a doctoral thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

If the neck is broken and there is a cervical injury, muscles in the arm and are paralysed. But in many cases some functions remain, which makes it possible to transfer muscles and tendons and thereby restore a tetraplegic person's grip function.

About 50 or so such hand operations are performed every year at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and patients come from both Sweden and Europe. There have been major advances in surgical techniques in recent years. For example, the method of connecting tendons is now so strong and can withstand such a heavy strain that the patient can start to exercise his or her grasp just one day after the operation.

A dissertation at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, describes a new method in which several operations can be combined and performed simultaneously in order to create both a grasp and release function of the hand in people with tetraplegia following a cervical spinal cord injury.

Compared with previously, when at least two operations were required to achieve the same functions, according to the thesis the simultaneous interventions can shorten the treatment period at the ward by an average of ten days for each hand, saving the patient at least three months of rehabilitation.

"The operation not only gives the patient a reconstruction of the pinch and grip function, but also the ability to open the hand," says Carina Reinholdt, Senior Consultant in and Doctor of Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

"The fact that the patient can start exercising immediately also reduces the risk of adhesion formations and scarring around the transferred . The post-operative results are also better: the grip strength is twice as strong and the ability to open the hand is better than in traditional, separate operations."

For the patient, a reconstructed grasp function means greater independence. With a functional grasp, a paralysed person can feed himself/herself, take care of his/her own hygiene, use a computer or mobile phone more easily, and hold and greet people.

"In our everyday lives we encounter countless instances where you need a good grip and the ability to open your hand. For many patients, this operation has meant that they've been able to return to work on a part-time basis," says Carina Reinholdt.

Explore further: Hand surgery enhances life quality for those with spinal cord injuries

Related Stories

Hand surgery enhances life quality for those with spinal cord injuries

March 25, 2013
Reconstructive hand surgery can dramatically enhance the life quality and independence of those paralysed by a cervical spinal cord injury. Despite this, the operation is not frequently performed, either in Sweden or elsewhere. ...

Surgeons restore some hand function to quadriplegic patient

May 15, 2012
Surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have restored some hand function in a quadriplegic patient with a spinal cord injury at the C7 vertebra, the lowest bone in the neck. Instead of operating ...

New surgical technique may reverse paralysis, restore use of hand

June 18, 2012
Justin M. Brown, MD, reconstructive neurosurgeon at UC San Diego Health System, is one of only a few specialists in the world who have pioneered a novel technique to restore hand function in patients with spinal cord injury. ...

Next generation gamers: Computer games aid recovery from stroke

May 16, 2011
Computer games are not just for kids. New research published in Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, a BioMed Central open access journal, shows that computer games can speed up and improve a patient's recovery ...

Researcher: Hypnosis should be offered to patients with IBS

December 18, 2012
Hypnotherapy helps fight IBS symptoms. These are the findings of a thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden which proposes implementing this treatment method into the care of severe sufferers of this ...

Recommended for you

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.