Patients can now feed themselves, put on make-up, turn a key, handle money and type at a computer.
Paul Robinson, 36 from Brisbane, said the innovative surgery had given him independence he had never imagined.Completely normal function has not been restored, but doctors say the improvement is life-changing.
Injuries to the spinal cord stop messages getting from the brain to control the rest of the body. The impact is paralysis. Patients in the trial had quadriplegia affecting movement in all their limbs. But crucially they were still able to move some muscles in their upper arms.The functioning nerves leading from the spinal cord to these muscles were then rewired.The nerves were cut and then attached to nerves that control other muscles - such as for extending the arm or opening or closing the hand.For example, nerves that once turned the palm up to face the ceiling could be used to extend all the fingers in the hand.So now when a patient thinks of rotating their hand, their fingers extend.[BACK TO NEWS]