Acceptable benefits and risks associated with surgically improving arm function in individuals living with cervical spinal cord injury

K. D. Anderson, J. Fridén, R. L. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Study Design:Secure, web-based survey.Objectives:To determine how quadriplegics in the US view tendon transfer surgeries (TTS) and what activities of daily living (ADL) involving arm/hand function are important in improving quality of life (QoL).Setting:World wide web.Methods:Individuals 18 years of age living with a cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Participants obtained a pass code to enter a secure website and answered survey questions. A total of 137 participants completed the survey.Results:Two-thirds of participants had injury levels between C4/5 and C5/6. Over 90% felt that improving their arm/hand function would improve their QoL. ADL that were ranked most important to regain were dressing, feeding, transferring in/out of bed, and handwriting. Less than half of the participants had never been told about TTS and only 9% had ever had TTS. Nearly 80% reported that they would be willing to spend 2-3 months being less independent, while recovering from surgery, to ultimately become more independent. Over 75% reported that the ideal time preferred to have TTS, if chosen, would be within 5 years post-injury.Conclusion:Regaining arm and hand function is of primary importance to individuals with cervical SCI, in particular, to increase independence in multiple ADL. There is a critical need in the US to improve awareness of TTS as a viable option for improving arm/hand function in some people. This information needs to be provided early after injury so that informed choices can be made within the first 5 years.Sponsorship:Funded by the National Center for Muscle Rehabilitation Research (UCSD-39889) and the Reeve-Irvine Research Center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-338
Number of pages5
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


  • Activities of daily living
  • Arm and hand function
  • Cervical spinal cord injury
  • Functional independence
  • Quality of life
  • Tendon transfer surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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