A SPARK OF NERVE is a story of personal triumph and medical innovation. Loren was fifteen when a prisoner mistakenly released from San Quentin followed her into a San Francisco bakery and brutally stabbed her five times, severing the nerves in her neck. Neurosurgeons said her arm would never move again. Michael, an Illinois attorney, was facing a similar, dead-end diagnosis after a freak chain saw accident paralyzed his arm. Eighteen-year-old Chelsey survived a horrific late night car accident in St. Louis, which left her arm useless as well. None of these patients were willing to accept paralysis or worse, possible amputation. Unfortunately they also didn’t know they were in a race against time or the paralysis would be permanent. Each desperately went searching for a cure and found hope with Dr. Susan Mackinnon and her pioneering work in nerve transfer surgery, which is restoring movement to limbs that many doctors believe to be permanently paralyzed. The film follows the charismatic Mackinnon and several of her patients for three years as their emotional stories unfold – from trauma and disappointment to hope and finally joy as the freedom of movement is slowly regained. Mackinnon is committed to sharing her groundbreaking surgical “recipes” and is creating a military funded teaching website for all surgeons anywhere in the world. With rare access, we visit the Walter Reed Peripheral Nerve Clinic in Maryland to see how nerve transfers are being used to help wounded soldiers returning from the Middle East conflicts.
A SPARK OF NERVE will inspire the millions with nerve injuries to not lose hope and to seek out these little known but life-changing surgeries.