About This Treatment

An injury to the spinal cord can impact a patient's day-to-day function and strength and can result in loss of feeling and/or paralysis. While peripheral nerves can regenerate after an injury, cells in the spinal cord do not, meaning a surgical procedure is the only way to restore function.

Below is a table that shows the rehabilitation potential for various levels of spinal injury.

Level of Injury Rehabilitation Potential
C1-C3 Using phrenic nerve pacer or ventilator to assist with breathing.
C3-C4 Using nerve transfer to provide basic arm/elbow function.
C5-C6 Ability to grab objects and provide function to triceps muscles.
C7-C8 Improved ability to grab objects and perform finer finger movements.
T1 Natural/basic hand movement.
T2-T9 Using nerve transfer to provide sensation to lower extremities. Potential of using spinal cord stimulation to improve lower extremity function.*
T10-T12 Limited hip movement and increased sensation in legs.
L1-L2 If patient has some hip movement, a nerve transfer can be used to provide hip extension.
L3-L4 If a patient has some hip flexion and the ability to extend their knee, nerve transfers can be used to improve walking ability.
L5-S1 Using a nerve or tendon transfer to improve ankle stability.

All patients with some movement in their lower extremities may be considered as candidates for epidural stimulation to improve movement or reduce spasms.

The Mass General Paralysis Center is a multidisciplinary center featuring physicians and surgeons from a variety of service lines including Neurosurgery, Neurology, Imaging, Orthopaedics, Plastic Surgery and more. Our doctors work together to determine a treatment option that can address each patient’s unique situation. The Paralysis Center opened in 2018 and is led by Justin Brown, MD.