The sciatic nerve is the body’s largest and runs from the lower end of the spinal cord down the leg. When damaged, muscles supplied by the nerve stop working and a person loses the sense of feeling on their skin. In 1988, University of Toronto Drs. Alan Hudson and Susan Mackinnon performed the world’s first nerve transplant on a boy who severely damaged his sciatic nerve in a boating accident. Two years later, the boy could feel a pinprick on the sole of his foot for the first time since the accident.
Today, it is possible to restore feeling and movement with a nerve graft thanks to their research.