Tim Raglin regularly dove, headfirst, into the water at his family’s lake house. The 45-year old Canadian man had done so thousands of times without incident. In 2007, though Raglin hit his head on a rock in the shallow water, shattering a vertebra in his cervical spine.
His family pulled him to safety, saving him from drowning. However, for nine years, both his hands and feet were left paralyzed.
Now though, there’s hope for Raglin and others like him.
Raglin is the first Canadian to ever undergo a nerve transfer surgery. Dr. Kirsty Boyd from the Ottawa Hospital essentially rewired Raglin’s body– rerouting some of his fully-functional elbow nerves to his hand. Although Raglin had to wait several months for the nerves to regrow, this procedure allowed him to regain some control over his right hand.
After persevering for 18 months, Raglin was finally able to open his fingers during an occupational therapy session at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre.
“It was kind of a shock,” he said in an interview. “And it’s really moving now: There’s a lot of nerves touching muscles that are getting stronger…Every iteration, it just gets more and more exciting.”