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Thursday, May 6, 1999 Published at 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK


Surgery restores use of limb

Jonathan Harris can now use his hand

A man who lost the use of his limbs in a motorcycle accident is able to use an arm and hand again thanks to surgeons at Salisbury District Hospital.

Jonathan Harris had his operation three months ago and is said to be progressing well.

A motorcycle accident two years ago left Jonathan paralysed from the neck down.

He underwent state-of-the-art surgery in February to attach eight electrodes to the muscles in his hands and arms.

The electrodes were linked to an electrical transmitter in hs chest.

The transmitter receives messages from an electronic box which interprets information sent by a joystick control in Jonathan's shoulder.

The system mimics messages passed from the brain to the muscles.

Basic movements

[ image: Surgeons attached electrodes to the muscles]
Surgeons attached electrodes to the muscles
Now, although Jonathan still has to learn the device fully, he can already carry out basic movements.

By moving his shoulder backwards, Jonathan can open his hand.

Moving the shoulder forwards closes the hand, and jerking it upwards locks the hand in the closed position so he can grip objects.

Jonathan said: "It has definitely made a lot of difference, and it can only get better."

He now has to build up the muscles to increase the mobility and dexterity of his movements.

Plastic surgeon John Hobby, who carried out the surgery, said: "What we are able to do for people who are paralysed depends entirely on how high up the spine the injury has occurred.

"Although Jonathan's injury is in his neck, it was not high enough for him to be totally incapacitated.

"The implant will give him movement and control in his hands, so that he can carry out some of the every-day tasks which people without his injury probably take for granted."

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