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Nerve Transfers

A nerve transfer is a procedure during which a surgeon takes a healthy, redundant, functioning nerve (donor nerve) and reroutes it to connect to a nonfunctioning, damaged nerve (recipient nerve). This allows nerve fibers (axons) from the donor nerve to grow through the recipient nerve. As the axons regenerate, the damaged nerve regains its ability to carry movement and sensation signals to the muscle or area of the skin it connects to. The goal of a nerve transfer is to restore function to the muscle or sensation to the skin that was lost due to nerve damage.
Without a healthy nerve stimulating the muscle, muscle fibers can quickly degrade (atrophy). This process is irreversible, so quick action is needed to save the muscle. A nerve transfer can often be performed close to the paralyzed muscle, so the nerve fibers have less distance to cover and the function can sometimes be restored sooner than with other procedures.

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