Dr. Matthew Kaufman of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction is flanked by Dar Thompson of Peachtree, Georgia (left), and Russell Garrison of Bedford, Indiana. Dr. Kaufman successfully performed surgery to repair the phrenic nerve in both patients. Thompson, age 48, the CEO of World Gym Fitness Centers in Fayetteville and Peachtree, Georgia, struggled for six years with fatigue and poor lung function before finding Dr. Kaufman. “This guy saved me,” says Thompson of Dr. Kaufman. Thompson, who says he looks and feels 20 years younger from the relief he has gained, reports he was at 50% of his work level prior to surgery, and a year after surgery is now able to play competitive ice hockey and perform at 95% of maximum capacity. Russell Garrison, a 42-year-old commander of the Indiana State troopers, is pictured here a mere five days after his surgery. Like Thompson, he continued his training program despite the shortness of breath and inability to maintain his stamina. Says Dr. Kaufman of these two supremely fit patients, “Following phrenic nerve surgery I think fitness helps the rehabilitation of the diaphragm (which is compromised by an injury to the phrenic nerve that causes paralysis). After all, at least one study showed that the diaphragm muscle begins to deteriorate even 12 hours of inactivity.”
We are now post 18 months from the surgery and I feel we have hit a magical point in the process of total recovery.
About a month ago I began to have muscle spasms in my lower thorax and upper abdominal region. The spasm is located just under the medial side of my last (lowest) right rib. At first I thought it was my heart but soon realized where the spasm was located. This event was fairly consistent over a 15 day period, sometimes 5 or 6 occurrences per day. The diaphragm continues to go into spasm on occasion
Has you and I discussed on several occasions, regarding potential nerve growth (1 cm per month), it appears that there is a major increase in conduction in the diaphragm over the past 10 days. My breaths are much easier and much deeper than they were only one month ago. It’s like the dimmer has slowly been getting brighter and brighter over the last year-and-a-half but now it’s been turned all the way up. I thought I felt good after the surgery and all the months thereafter but this latest improvement is off the charts compared to the overall process.
In conclusion, these latest events have made my breathing much easier and effortless while at rest. My intuition tells me that my phrenic nerve has recovered about 95% since the procedure in December of 2009. I feel that the majority, if not all, of the nerve tissue has regenerated and all that remains is strength of conduction and recondition of the diaphragm muscle itself.
I hope this information may be helpful in current and/or future patients.