Financial planner Scott Fessler was a highly energetic, athletic young father when, at the age of 33, he was in a near-fatal motorcycle crash. Scott suffered fractures to his cervical vertebrae, resulting in paralysis from the neck down.
Immediately after the July 2006 accident, Scott underwent spinal surgery to fuse his C4-C6 vertebrae. He suffers chronic C5/C6 tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia. He lost use of all four limbs and the independence he had once taken for granted. After his injury, Scott endured inpatient and later, outpatient physical and occupational therapy for six months.
After years of hoping for a breakthrough in research, Scott was selected to receive a neuroprosthetic implant to help him regain function in his right arm and hand. This neuroprosthesis uses low levels of electrical current, or Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), to stimulate peripheral nerves that control specific muscle groups.
On June 21, 2011, orthopaedic hand surgeons at the Cleveland FES Center implanted electrodes on over a dozen muscles in Scott’s arm and hand to allow him to extend his elbow and wrist and open and close his hand. He also had a tendon transfer to assist in regaining voluntary thumb pinch. “After the tendon transfer and neuroprosthesis surgery, I received therapy that involved learning to activate my tendon for thumb pinch as well as therapy for programming the neuroprosthesis and learning how to use it,” Scott explains. Initial programming and therapy with the neuroprosthesis took a week. Scott was sent home to learn how to use the system in his own environment. A few months later, Scott returned to Cleveland for an additional week of programming and therapy to fine-tune the neuroprosthesis.