Quadriplegic patient regains use of her hands
March 31, 2023
MONTREAL – The CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (CEMTL) is proud to announce the results of the nerve transfer work carried out by Drs. Dominique Tremblay and Élie Boghossian, plastic surgeons at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. This new approach essentially involves moving some healthy nerves from eligible patients to an inactive nerve, in order to reanimate the muscles in their hands and arms that were no longer functioning.
This was done in the case of a young quadriplegic patient, Jeanne Carrière, who regained the use of her arms and hands thanks to this new surgical technique.
“In quadriplegic patients, we replace the nerve impulses of a nerve that does not function with that of a nerve that is still functioning. With time and rehabilitation, nerve impulses reform and the use of hands and arms gradually returns,” explained the Dr. Tremblay – who is also head of the division of plastic surgery at the Université de Montréal – on this great innovation in surgery.
Jeanne Carrière fell and broke her neck in December, 2021. When she woke up after the accident, she found herself almost completely paralyzed. She could lift her arms, but her hands were clamped shut.
In an interview with CTV News, she demonstrated how she can now move her thumb and index finger. After seven months of therapy, she expects to build more mobility in her hands over the course of the two-year program.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “I was able to imagine myself in a wheelchair, and not being able to walk, but my hands, that is too important for me. That’s my independence.”
“It’s being able to cook, eat by myself, brush my teeth, put my makeup on,” she said.
She has also been able to return to work as a screenwriter after gaining enough dexterity to use her computer or a pen to take notes. “It’s a beautiful gift that they gave to me.”
For the past two years, as part of a development phase, more than a dozen patients have undergone this type of reconstruction at the hospital and all these interventions have been successful.
It should be noted that all stages of patient rehabilitation were carried out in close collaboration with the Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal. On the strength of these successes, the CEMTL is now able to end the development phase and offer this type of intervention to all patients who could now benefit from it.
The Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, a national leader in plastic surgery, recently obtained a designation from the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, which identifies this institution as unique in Quebec in carrying out vascularized composite allotransplantation activities, mainly face grafts and upper limb (arm) transplants.
Dr. Daniel Borsuk, a plastic surgeon at the hospital who performed the country’s first face transplant at the facility, said the innovation of Drs. Tremblay and Boghossian “exemplify the unique expertise in plastic surgery that exists in this hospital and the reasons that led to this designation. There is no doubt about our leadership in this area and our accomplishments are being recognized internationally. And that’s something to be proud of.”
For his part, Jean-François Fortin Verreault, president and CEO of CEMTL, emphasized that such innovations in plastic surgery are “the result of years of extremely rigorous concerted work that is only possible thanks to the constant commitment of all the members of these formidable teams who have only one objective: to improve the quality of life of their patients. We are all very proud of their unwavering commitment to the patients of the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.”