Monday, November 22, 2010

Physiatrist's Perspective on Tetraplegia Hand Surgery

Dr. Cristina Rigo-Righi (picture) has more than 20 years of experience in rehabilitation of spinal cord injured persons. She is currently working as physiatrist (neuro-rehabilitation) at Infantile Fundacion Teleton in Santiago. Dr. Rigo-Righi connected with the SCI unit of Rancho Los Amigos, Los Angeles in the 1990’s and learned about the enthusiasm and drive to pursue the development of surgical reconstructions of hand function. A solid, science-based concept turned out to be the success factors of Rancho Los Amigos. Dr. Rigo-Righi was invited to the recent Chilean Congress on Orthopaedics and TraumatoIogy in La Serena and I got the opportunity to interview her and get her perspective on strategies to enhance interaction between surgeons and physiatrists in terms of reconstruction and training of hand function in people with tetraplegia. Below is a summary of some of her statements pertinent to tetraplegia hand surgery.
- In my opinion, professionalism will always prevail. I am confident that some more curiosity, respect of other's opinions, openness and serious “patient in focus”-approach will be necessary to apply updated medical knowledge no matter where it comes from” said Dr. Cristina Rigo-Righi.
- We are decades beyond the times when tetraplegia hand surgery was considered “experimental”. In this context the international meetings have meant a lot to define and refine current concepts of treatments. I encourage all of you to find a system where the expert knowledge is best utilized. As has been emphasized during this congress, optimizing hand control and upper extremity abilities are the cumulative effects of actions by key experts maturely working towards a common goal.
Asked about her perception of future directions in “our” field, Dr Rigo-Righi replied:
- My perception is that we must meet the modern demands of patients more thoroughly. In civilized societies, many old boundaries for handicaps have been already crossed and via the internet patients these days just know more about treatments available and caregivers have to respond accordingly. This is also true for tetraplegia hand surgery service that needs to be accessible without delay and incorporated to the larger comprehensive spinal cord injuries units’ routine treatments, said Dr. Cristina Rigo-Righi.

Posted by Jan Fridén