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Participants Needed for Research on Spinal Cord Injury

The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine is home to Dr. Ida Fox who specializes in nerve transfer surgery. Nerve transfer surgery is a groundbreaking procedure that can be used to make muscles work again following cervical spinal cord injury.

Dr. Fox and her team are leaders in the development of innovative and effective surgical techniques to help restore hand function following a life altering and devastating cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Improving hand function is often rated more important to patients than restoring other motor functions, such as walking. Dr. Fox has seen excellent clinical success thus far.

Due to the widespread international interest in nerve transfer surgery techniques, Dr. Fox has been frequently invited to lecture on the subject. In December 2014, Dr. Fox was the co-director of the Craig H Neilsen Nerve Transfer in Spinal Cord Injury Workshop to discuss this work and patient outcomes. In 2015, Dr. Fox led a workshop on nerve transfers at the 4th International Spinal Cord Society and American Spinal Injury Association Meeting. She also participated as an expert advisor in first of these surgeries performed in Canada, as well as being the invited lecturer on this subject at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Fox has received grant funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to further study and advance this surgical technique. Her research is focusing on patients between 18 and 60 years of age with spinal cord injury at the C6 or C7 level, who are interested in undergoing surgical treatment to improve their upper extremity function. Study participation will involve 4-5 visits with a physical therapist/certified hand therapist for functional testing, and participants will be asked to answer questionnaires and complete interviews about their quality of life and functional outcomes before and after surgery. There are no known direct benefits to participating but the information gained would be helpful to other SCI considering nerve transfer surgery in the future. The minimal risk of the study would be related to the confidential information collected from your medical record or questionnaires; however, all reasonable efforts to protect your personal information will be made. You will be compensated for your time and effort related to the research testing and questionnaires.

To qualify for the research study, the patient must first be determined to be a good surgical candidate by undergoing an evaluation with Dr. Fox. The evaluation, surgery and routine follow-up care would not be considered research; therefore your health plan/insurance company will be billed for some or all of these costs, and you will be responsible for any co-pays and deductibles that are normally required by your health plan/insurance.

If you are an interested patient, or you know of someone who may be, please contact Jessica Hasak hasakj@wudosis.wustl.edu

For more general information about nerve transfers and ability to restore function after SCI, please contact Deborah Graham grahamd@wudosis.wustl.edu