From Washington University Outlook, Winter 2016-17
OTTAWA CITIZENIn 2015, quadriplegic Tim Raglin became the first person in Canada to undergo a nerve transfer surgery to restore some movement to his hand. Raglin had been unable to move his hands or legs since shattering a vertebra in a diving accident nine years earlier.
School of Medicine surgeons Susan E. Mackinnon, MD, who pioneered the technique, and Ida K. Fox, MD, traveled to Canada to supervise as Kirsty Usher Boyd, MD, formerly a surgical fellow at Washington University, performed the delicate operation. The surgeons took a still-functioning nerve that controlled Raglin’s elbow and sutured it onto a pathway toward his right hand. For a year after surgery, Raglin felt nothing at all; damaged nerves regrow very slowly. Then, in February 2016, his index finger twitched. Now he can unfold his fingers and grip implements such as a fork, shaver and toothbrush. The process has been exhilarating for Boyd and Raglin. “It’s all about independence,” Raglin said.