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Creating the Bionic Woman: Making Nerves Spring Back to Life
Date:10/28/2007

Cutting-Edge Nerve Repair Discussed at American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Annual Meeting

BALTIMORE, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the debut of NBC's "Bionic Woman," the notion of a bionic person is thought of as merely television fantasy. However, the bionic woman is getting closer to reality as reconstructive plastic surgeons perform quality-of-life-enhancing peripheral nerve surgeries once thought impossible. In fact, plastic surgeons are perfecting a nerve surgery that will allow humans to better interface with machines, giving amputees the ability to better move prosthetics, say presenters at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2007 conference in Baltimore.

"Peripheral nerves control the body's motor and sensory functions and injuries can be devastating, significantly impacting a patient's ability to perform normal activities," said W.P. Andrew Lee, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and panel moderator. "We are restoring patients' movement through reconstructive plastic surgery that allows nerves and muscles to merge with, power, and move prosthetic devices. The bionic person is no longer just a Hollywood concept."

On the forefront, plastic surgeons are perfecting a new nerve transfer procedure where nerve fibers from a neighboring muscle are redirected to the damaged muscle to provide function. The nerve branches from the original muscle and the redirected nerve branches to the damaged muscle then compensate for the loss by growing extra branches. Within months, the damaged muscle regains function from the "borrowed" nerve fibers.

"Before, we had to wait for the nerve to slowly regenerate and hope the muscle was still healthy and had some functionality once the nerve reconnected to it," said Paul Cederna, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and lecture presenter. "While plastic surgeons have been talking about this type of nerve transfer for some time, it wasn't until recently that w
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SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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