Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tetraplegia Hand Surgery Discussions in Chile

On November 16th, 2010, hand surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, plastics surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists and occupational therapists gathered at Hospital del Trabajador in Santiago de Chile. This conference was an introductory step organized by Drs. Manuel Méndez and Juan Manuel Breyer to pinpoint and correct the underuse of surgical hand reconstructions in persons with tetraplegia. The participants discussed the planning of a build-up of a national unit for reconstructive hand surgery in patients with tetraplegia after spinal cord injury. Professor Jan Fridén, invited speaker from Sweden, gave the expert advice based on experience from Sweden and Europe. It was agreed upon several conditions necessary for successful development of surgical rehabilitation in tetraplegia for example the right for all patients with cervical spinal cord injury and tetraplegia to be assessed by surgeon with expert knowledge in tetraplegia hand surgery, early and correct information to patients about possible surgical options to improve hand control i.e., in practice within the first six months after injury, establish a team representing different expertises and several other critical prerequisites. It was remarkable that the need for surgical reconstruction was to so strongly advocated by the physiatrists as evidenced for example by Dr. Cristina Rigo-Righi’s statement that it is of common interest for patients and caregivers to provide this surgical service as expediently as possible.