Stephanie Lehman loves to bike ride, play with her doll named Jennifer, and work on the computer at school. From all outward appearances, she is no different than any other eight-year-old girl. But under her long-sleeved sweatshirt are hidden scars that tell the real story. Four years earlier, Stephanie was struck by a car while playing outside her home. When she awoke in the ICU, her left leg was in a cast and her arm paralyzed due to nerves that had been severed from her spinal cord.
It was doubtful that she would ever be able to use the arm again. But this doubt turned to hope when he family sought out the expertise of HSS orthopedic surgeons Robert N. Hotchkiss, MD, and Michelle Carlson, MD. Together with a team of surgeons, they would transfer muscle, along with a blood vessel and nerve, from Stephanie’s inner thigh to restore function in her arm and repair the devastating damage that had been done.
The delicate microsurgical procedure rarely performed in this country incorporated a unique modification developed here at HSS that has allowed Stephanie to relearn to use her arm. The muscle from her leg now acts as the biceps in her arm. Today, Stephanie’s casts have been replaced by self-assurance and boundless energy—vital signs of a thriving eight-year-old.