Freezing of Nerves Helping Patients with Disabling Conditions
As Medical Director of Rehabilitation and Transitions for Island Health, Dr. Paul Winston wants to ensure the best available care for patients. He works to improve quality of life and speed up recovery for people who are recovering from injury, or living with disabling conditions like spasticity. Spasticity is a neurological condition that causes certain muscles to contract constantly. It usually results from brain injuries like stroke, or conditions like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Spasticity can be very painful and often robs people of the use of their limbs, severely affecting their movement and quality of life.
Thanks to new research evidence and new equipment funded by Victoria Hospitals Foundation donors, Dr. Winston’s team is able to offer better options for patients living with spasticity by treating the nerves that cause muscles to contract. To achieve this, Dr. Winston works with interventional anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Vincent. Dr. Vincent freezes patient nerves to -60 degrees to relax contracted muscles in a new technique called cryoneurotomy. Symptoms are relieved until the nerve grows back, with results now holding at two years or more.
While it might sound like science fiction, cryoneurotomy offers very real results. For some patients, it can restore motion in minutes after years of limitation, allowing them to regain independence and quality of life – to feed themselves, mow the lawn, or lift their grandchild for the first time. Some patients may require surgical intervention, and in those cases, are referred to specialized surgeons for consultation.
For some patients, it can restore motion in minutes after years of limitation, allowing them to regain independence and quality of life.
With the support of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, the team has recently purchased an ultrasound machine to improve diagnostics and target their innovative treatments. “I can say with confidence that people on Vancouver Island are receiving treatments that aren’t as readily available elsewhere in North America,” Dr. Winston says. “We simply couldn’t do this without the support of our community, donors, and the Hospitals Foundation.”