• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: A brighter future after nerve transfer surgery

September 15, 2019
Sharing Mayo Clinic patient Patrick Metzger smiling while outside in the mountains on a biking or biking trail

Patrick Metzger will never forget the first time he got on a motorcycle when he was 23. "I was in Arkansas visiting my dad while on leave from the Air Force," he says. "I went on a ride with him and loved it."

Patrick got his motorcycle license and continued to ride with his dad and brother until he decided to get his own motorcycle in 2009. Then, in 2016, he bought a race bike and started racing around a track.

Patrick Metzger with his motorcycle.

"You go out on the track to do the warm-up lap. The flagger is up on the stand. All the engines rev while you're waiting for the green flag. When it goes up, you can feel the front end of your bike come off the ground," Patrick says. "It's so exciting."

But on Dec. 2, 2017, the excitement turned to injury. During a race in Southern California, Patrick flipped over the front of his bike. He broke both of his arms and fractured a vertebra in his back. He also injured his right radial nerve — the nerve that runs down the back of the arm, controlling movement of the triceps muscle and allowing for extension of the wrist and fingers.

Patrick was rushed to the emergency department at a Palm Springs hospital. Doctors there performed two surgeries: one to fix his broken bones and another to repair the injured radial nerve. After nine days in the hospital, Patrick returned to Las Vegas, where he lives and works for a defense contractor at Nellis Air Force Base.

"After the nerve repair, I was told it would take six months to heal. I had grip function but could not lift my wrist, extend my fingers out or lift my thumb," Patrick says. "It was extremely limiting not to be able to use my dominant hand. I missed six months of work and had to learn how to do lots of things with one hand."

Patrick went to see several local doctors about the nerve damage in his hand. He was referred to a plastic surgeon who recommended Patrick go to the Peripheral Nerve Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Read the rest of Patrick's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.