Doctors recently used "Nerve Transfer Surgery" to allow a 71-year-old quadriplegic to make use of his fingers once again. The surgery takes nerves that are used to bend the elbows and rerouting them towards the hand, by attaching these working nerves to the non-working nerves in the individual's hand, so the individual can make use of his or her fingers. While it takes some time for the individual's brain to figure out what is going on with his or her nerves, eventually the brain grasps what has happened and the new nerves are used to bend the fingers.
The individual in this case sustained a C7 spinal cord injury as a result of a 2008 motor vehicle accident. Doctors caution that this surgery is not for everyone. Those with lower spinal cord injuries maintain use of their hands and those with higher spinal cord injuries do not have the working nerves in the correct places in their bodies to transfer to the non-working nerves in the hands.
In this case, over six months, the nerves grew six inches along the non-working nerves in order to reach the muscles at the end of the nerves. After physical therapy, the patient was able to move his fingers again and eventually feed himself small bites of food.
To learn more about this procedure, check out the following link: