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Replacing and Repairing Nerves

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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013 3:55 pm

Your body is made up of 214 major nerves, Each an electric pathway that keeps your body feeling and moving.

If one of these dies or is torn apart--it can mean paralysis.

Now doctors are replacing and repairing nerves and getting amazing results.

Brian Levitt damaged nerve patient. "It was my last jump. I felt my leg plant and I heard a crack."

In that moment, Brian Levett thought his budding sports career was over. No more track. No more football. "I was expecting to play in college."

On his last jump, in the last track meet of the season, Brian tore his ACL, his LCL, and damaged a main nerve in his leg. He couldn't lift his foot or even walk.

"When he injured his knee he completely lost function of that nerve," says Justin Brown, MD Neurosurgeon, UC San Diego Health System.

Brown believed Brian's nerve was dead. He was about to replace it with a healthy nerve from Brian's foot. It's a ground-breaking technique that's helping the paralyzed and stroke patients regain the use of their limbs, but when the doctor got into surgery he discovered Brian’s nerve was not dead. “His nerve was entrapped in scar tissue and was completely compressed."

Millimeter by millimeter, Doctor Brown performed a delicate surgery and freed the nerve from the scar tissue. Six months later Brian is walking tall as a college freshman. "Just to know where I've made it to now. I mean it's truly a blessing."

Right now, Brian is playing intramural basketball, and football.

The doctor tells us the nerve surgery he performed on Brian-- and the one that's helping patients with nerve paralysis must be performed within a year of the injury, or the nerve can't be saved.

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