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Motor Recovery And The Breathing Arm After Brachial Plexus Surgical Repairs, Including Re-Implantation Of Avulsed Spinal Roots Into The Spinal Cord

M. HTUT, V. P. MISRA, P. ANAND, R. BIRCH, T. CARLSTEDT

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Forty-four patients with severe traction brachial plexus avulsion injuries were studied following surgical repairs. In eight patients, re-implanting avulsed spinal roots directly to the spinal cord was performed with other repairs and motor recovery in the proximal limb was similar to that achieved by conventional nerve grafts and transfers when assessed using the MRC clinical grades, Narakas scores, EMG and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Thirty-four of the 37 patients had co-contractions of agonist and antagonist muscle groups. Spontaneous contractions of limb muscles in synchrony with respiration, the “breathing arm”, were noted in 26 of 37 patients: in three patients, the source of the breathing arm was from spinal cord re-connection, providing evidence of regeneration from the CNS to the periphery. Our study shows that re-connection of avulsed spinal roots can produce good motor recovery and provides a clinical model for developing new treatments which may enhance nerve regeneration.