When an injury is sustained to the nerves, it can cause a loss of function. To restore function, a tendon transfer can be performed.
A tendon is a connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone and serves to move a bone or structure. When a nerve becomes injured and the result is loss of muscle function, a tendon transfer can help restore function. A tendon transfer can be performed when a muscle ruptures, is lacerated and cannot be repaired or a nervous disorder destroys muscle function.
“A tendon transfer procedure takes an extra tendon from the upper limb and transfers it to the other muscle or other limb and restores movement in that function,” says Michael D. Riggenbach, M.D.
A tendon transfer works because when the nerve is injured and cannot be repaired, it no longer sends and receives signals to a certain muscle. The muscle then becomes paralyzed. A tendon transfer attempts to replace that function.
What is Recovery Like for a Tendon Transfer?
After a tendon transfer, a patient will likely wear a splint to immobilize the area that has been affected. A patient typically undergoes physical therapy during their recovery process to restore strength to the transferred tendon.
It typically takes about 12 weeks to fully recover from a tendon transfer. Most tendon transfers are highly successful in restoring movement to the affected area.
“It restores that movement to the joint,” Dr. Riggenbach says. “This can oftentimes help the patient perform functions they never could perform before.”