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 Weekly Member Update - May 18, 2012

Volunteer's Note

ASSH Members Perform Historic Nerve Transfer Procedure on Tetraplegic

Hand Society History

Apply for Plastic Surgery Visiting Professorship; Deadline June 1

Member Spurs Students to Develop Rehab Device for Children with Cerebral Palsy

AMA Membership Update

May IFSSH Newsletter Now Available

Good Referrals

Thank You to AFSH Donors​

Senate Committee Explores Future of Medicare Physician Payment


Volunteer's Note

The charge of the Courses and Meetings Advisory Committee (CMAC) is to develop continuing medical education courses for the ASSH over a five-year planning timeframe.

In addition to sponsoring various stand-alone CME courses throughout the year, the committee also co-sponsors CME activity with other associations – such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – and endorses selected relevant CME programs from academic institutions.
CMAC coordinates and oversees the ASSH Annual Meeting pre-courses and post-courses and is also responsible for the Comprehensive Review Course held each July in Chicago.

Throughout the year, CMAC meets quarterly to review proposals for new and recurring educational programs.  Important parts of this process include review of the content of stand-alone educational programs as well as the timing of the CME offering throughout the year.
One of the biggest impediments to a successful CME course is a timing conflict with a course or courses developed by other professional associations with educational interests similar to the ASSH.  Not only does this create competition for the educational content of the meetings, but scheduling conflicts may arise for faculty slated to participate in the course.
The committee has 19 members and is tasked with providing periodic reports to the ASSH Council.  The last year has been busy for CMAC, as the committee suggested changes to Council concerning the ASSH conflict of interest policy and has conducted an extensive needs-assessment survey of our members regarding the educational content of our courses.  Over 500 members responded to the needs-assessment survey, generating data on preferred topics for courses as well as providing information on our members' level of competence with certain hand surgery conditions.
This year, CMAC is sponsoring the half-day ASSH Annual Meeting Master Skills pre-course on hand and wrist reconstruction, chaired by Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. Jeff Greenberg.  In addition, CMAC will sponsor the first-ever Annual Meeting post-course.  The theme of this post-course will be soft-tissue reconstruction, with live surgical demonstrations, chaired by Dr. Scott Levin, Dr. William Pederson and Dr. James Higgins.
The committee is also in the midst of planning courses for 2013 and beyond.   

The Courses and Meetings Advisory Committee is a very active group that is integral to the ASSH's primary mission: education.  The hard-working members of this committee should feel a sense of pride about their accomplishments over the past year.

Peter M. Murray, MD
Chair, Courses and Meetings Advisory Committee

ASSH Members Perform Historic Nerve Transfer Procedure on Tetraplegic


Hand Society members Ida K. Fox, MD, and Susan E. Mackinnon, MD, are part of team that is making international headlines this week following a revolutionary procedure that has restored hand function to a paralyzed man.

Fox and Mackinnon were part of a Washington University team that performed the surgery on a 71-year-old man two years ago.  The man had been paralyzed from the waist down and lost the use of both hands due to spinal cord damage sustained in a car accident.  The story is making news across the globe this week because the team's case study was published online in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

"We are very excited to offer an additional surgical technique to patients with tetraplegia," Dr. Fox told Weekly Member Update. "While tendon transfers, tenodesis procedures and some fusions may restore some function; this is, to our knowledge, the first description of using nerve transfers to restore hand function in a patient with tetraplegia.

"What this procedure does is capitalize on the unique physiologic differences between spinal cord and peripheral nerve injuries.  In spinal cord injuries, the nerves are still connected to and maintain the muscles at the level below the level of spinal cord injury.

"In this patient with a C7 injury, C8 and T1-innervated hand function is no longer under volitional control, however, those muscles (unlike those in peripheral nerve injury) still have lower motor neuron (peripheral nerve) input.  Therefore, we can bypass the spinal cord injury (theoretically no matter the time from injury) by using a nerve transfer to steal redundant nerves (in this case nerve to brachialis muscle, which is innervated above the level of injury at C5/6) and swap them over into the anterior interosseous nerve to reinnervate flexor digitorum profundus to index finger and flexor pollicis longus."

Dr. Mackinnon called the procedure "easy to do" and said the patient has improved further since the case study was written.

It is worth noting that the AFSH has supported the Mackinnon team's study of nerve transfer through multiple seed grants for basic science research.

Hand Society History


The ASSH staff dipped into the archives and found this shot of Adrian E. Flatt, MD, from February 1966.  Other than when it was taken, no other information accompanied the photo, but Dr. Flatt certainly looks at home on the range. 

Dr. Flatt served as the 30th President of the ASSH (1975-76).  Last year we celebrated his 90th birthday at the 29th Annual Adrian E. Flatt Residents and Fellows Conference on the eve of the Annual Meeting.  Join us again this year on Wednesday, September 5 in Chicago.

Apply for Plastic Surgery Visiting Professorship; Deadline June 1

The Plastic Surgery Visiting Professorship Program seeks to encourage plastic surgery residents to pursue a career in hand surgery and to increase involvement with the ASSH.
Each year, six to eight plastic surgery programs are selected to host an ASSH visiting professor– an accomplished plastic hand surgeon who serves as a "role model" for trainees and students.

The 2012-'13 academic year visiting professors are Neil Jones, MD, from the University of California, Irvine and Jeffrey Friedrich, MD, from the University of Washington.
If your institution is interested in hosting a visiting professor in the 2012-'13 academic year, please complete the application form.  Visit the ASSH website for more information.  The deadline for applications is June 1, 2012.

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Member Spurs Students to Develop Rehab Device for Children with Cerebral Palsy

A team of seniors at Rice University credits its mentor – ASSH member Gloria Gogola, MD – as the inspiration for its development of a rehab device for children with cerebral palsy.

The team, known as Helping Hands, hopes the Dino-Might will restore strength and flexibility to the hands and wrists of children whose fingers and wrists are locked into a sort of claw-like position.  Even after surgery to correct it, they need physical therapy to get stronger.
Gogola, a pediatric hand and upper-extremity surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston, corrects the condition, known as spastic wrist flexion deformity, and restores wrist extension by surgically removing a tendon from the underside of the wrist and attaching it to the upper portion.
After surgery, the wrist and its associated muscles and tendons, though straightened, are weak and must be exercised to restore near-normal use.

Gogola wanted a rehabilitation device that securely positions the patient's limb, senses and records its strengths and provides a workout for the weakened wrist.  Dino-Might prompts the child to appropriately adjust his or her movements with a computer game starring an animated dinosaur.  Read more.

AMA Membership Update

AMA rules stipulate that in order to qualify for a seat in the AMA House of Delegates, 25% of our members must be AMA members.  After consulting with the AMA this week, we discovered that we are closer to the goal than we thought, but we are still 21 members shy of the 25% mark.
Having a seat in the AMA House of Delegates allows the ASSH to have a voice in decisions that directly affect you and your patients.
Have you joined or rejoined the AMA since January 1, 2012?  Please let us know by contacting so we can track the progress of your AMA membership.  The ASSH will reconcile our membership list with the AMA to get credit for our members.
Have your voice heard: Join the AMA.

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May IFSSH Newsletter Now Available

The May International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand (IFSSH) Newsletter features articles on 17th-century hand surgeon Julius Casserius, pain-guided therapy for hand fractures, and much more.

An excerpt from the article on Casserius:

Julius Casserius's contribution as an anatomist and surgeon rates him amongst the greatest persons of hand surgery, belonging to the scientific community of the hand surgeons of all continents.

To read the entire newsletter, visit the IFSSH page on the ASSH website.

Good Referrals

Have you read or seen something on the Web that you think your fellow members would be interested in or could benefit from?

Send links to articles, studies, photos, blogs – anything you'd like to share with membership – to, and we'll make sure the best get shared in this space.

Thank You to AFSH Donors

Lauren Parkhill Adey, MD
Jan C. Bax, MD
Jon J. Cherney, MD
Leslie P. Dean, MD
Shaunak S. Desai, MD
L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS
Andrew D. Markiewitz, MD
Robert D. Mastey, MD
M. Clare K. McCarthy, MD
Christopher M. Stutz, MD
Christopher J. Walsh, MD

Each year, the AFSH provides scholarships through the generosity of our colleagues and corporate partners for Residents and Fellows to attend the Annual Meeting.  The AFSH is grateful to our current scholarship supporters Stryker and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals.  If you or your organization would like to help support the next generation upper extremity surgeons, contact Jessica Daniels ( or 847-384-8300) by Tuesday, May 29, 2012.  

Did you know you can now support the Foundation (AFSH) through automated monthly payments?  Visit to complete an auto-pay form, or contact

Senate Committee Explores Future of Medicare Physician Payment - from AMA

As a looming Medicare physician payment cut of nearly 30 percent threatens access to care for seniors and military families, the US Senate Finance Committee began a bipartisan series of discussions last week examining the escalating Medicare physician payment crisis.

These roundtable discussions, the first of which featured testimony from former administrators of the Medicare program, are intended to take a close look at the history of Medicare physician payment to better understand how to move forward.  Read more.