Perceptions of People With Tetraplegia Regarding Surgery to Improve Upper-Extremity Function

Jared P. Wagner, Catherine M. Curtin, David R. Gater, Kevin C. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: In the United States, more than 100,000 Americans live with the disability of tetraplegia. These individuals must struggle through long and complicated rehabilitations. Upper-extremity reconstructive surgery can improve use of the upper limb for appropriate candidates; however, a prior national study showed that these procedures rarely are performed. This cross-sectional survey identified the attitudes and beliefs of people with tetraplegia that may dissuade potential candidates from receiving these procedures. Methods: An oral survey was designed to determine priorities of reconstruction in individuals with tetraplegia. This survey was administered to 50 people with tetraplegia. Results: Among those surveyed, 13 (26%) had never heard of upper-extremity reconstructive surgery, but 22 (44%) were interested in upper-extremity reconstruction. People with tetraplegia who had a negative first impression of these procedures were far less likely to want reconstruction 0 (0%) vs. 11 (45%). Of patients who learned about these procedures from their physicians, 10 (67%) had a negative first impression after the physician consultation. Conclusions: Although many people with tetraplegia understand the benefits of upper-extremity reconstruction, a large number of them are unaware of or have unfavorable attitudes toward these procedures. These negative attitudes may account for the marked underuse of upper-extremity reconstructive procedures in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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