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using nerves that control the toes to control the fingers?

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  • using nerves that control the toes to control the fingers?

    I'm a C5C6 quadriplegic and have very good control and strength in the toes and ankle on my left foot. Call me crazy, but I would be willing to trade that function for some hand function. Are there any research or clinical studies under way in transferring such function, either through nerve rerouting or some kind or FES? Links to some information would be great.

    Thanks,

    Jon

  • #2
    The problem resides in the spinal cord, not the nerve tracks in the hands/arms. If the signal can't reach the nerves due to an injury in the spinal cord at the site that controls arm and hand movement, you won't regain movement unless you're incomplete. The area where regeneration needs to occur is the spinal cord. However, tendon transfer can help restore finger flexion and extension in quads with innervated biceps.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JCampbell View Post
      I'm a C5C6 quadriplegic and have very good control and strength in the toes and ankle on my left foot. Call me crazy, but I would be willing to trade that function for some hand function. Are there any research or clinical studies under way in transferring such function, either through nerve rerouting or some kind or FES? Links to some information would be great.

      Thanks,

      Jon
      Jon,

      You are a very unusual case. The fact that you have good preservation of your left foot/toe movement but loss of your arm muscles suggests that your injury damaged your gray matter in your cervical spinal cord (either ischemia or continued compression), or you have had brachial plexus injury.

      I have not heard of transfer of nerves from the leg to the hands. It could be done but careful consideration should be given to other nerves first. Dr. Zhang in China has used the spinal accessory nerve to reinnervate the wrist and hand muscles. The accessory nerve is normally considered a cranial nerve (XI) but it has a spinal component that controls the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the trapezius muscle, two important neck muscles [source]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessory_nerve[/source]. It is often used for brachial plexus reconstruction [source]http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S036350230183567X[/source] and for restoring elbow function [source]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12593616[/source].

      Wise.

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