Making a New Robotic Prosthesis a Reality

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 23, 2016



Two years ago, Jim Ewing fell nearly 50 feet from a cliff while rock climbing. The injuries he sustained left him with severe damage to the bones and nerves in his left leg.

This past July, Jim decided to take part in a first-of-its-kind surgical amputation procedure with Dr. Matthew Carty, director of the Lower Extremity Transplant Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, who created a robotic prosthetic, and funding from the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation, Jim is set to embark on a new journey that could enable his brain to interact with a specially made prosthetic.

“In its uninjured state, the human body is a dynamic machine, comprised of many moving parts that function in balance and enable us to do amazing things, like running and dancing, through the coordinated interaction of our brain and our muscles,” Dr. Carty explained in a press conference. “Traditional amputations disrupt this dynamic state. As a result, lower limb amputees lose the ability to finely control the muscles in their residual legs and, more importantly, lose the ability to perceive where their limb is in space without looking at it.” Read More »

Breast Reconstruction – New Surgical Approaches

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 11, 2016

Innovative flap procedures offer breast reconstruction options to patients who are not candidates for implant-based breast reconstruction.

Contributor: Dr. Matthew Carty is Co-Director of the Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. His clinical interests include advanced reconstructive and cosmetic procedures of the body and face.

Many women who have lost a breast to cancer cannot undergo common breast reconstruction procedures, because they have had abdominal surgery, or lack sufficient donor tissue in their abdomen.

However, with advances in surgical reconstruction, many have new options. “We can now use the patient’s own tissue to rebuild the breast,” says Dr. Matthew Carty.

The innovative reconstructive options involve transferring tissue, known as flaps, from one part of the body to the chest without compromising muscle functioning.

“After the surgical procedure, patients can still run, ride bikes, swim, do ballet, yoga, all the general activities that people like to do,” says Dr. Carty. Read More »

New Options for Natural Breast Reconstruction

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 13, 2015


BWH plastic surgeons are offering new breast reconstruction options that use a patient’s own thigh tissue.

Plastic surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) are now offering women several new options for natural breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

These new autologous (own tissue) procedures – PAP (profunda artery perforator), TUG (transverse upper gracilis), and DUG (diagonal upper gracilis) flap reconstruction – are typically reserved for patients who do not have enough tissue in their abdomen for reconstruction or who have already had abdominal surgery. Each option involves taking a complete flap of tissue – including skin, fat, and its accompanying blood supply – from the patient’s own leg and transferring it to the chest to create a new breast.

Women are increasingly turning to these and other types of autologous reconstruction as alternatives to reconstruction with artificial implants. Chief among the reasons for this trend is that flap procedures give women the opportunity to have a reconstructed breast with a natural look and feel that lasts. Because they’re biologic, soft tissue reconstructions evolve with the patient. As a woman loses weight, gains weight, or ages, the reconstructed breast tends to respond in proportion to the rest of the body.

Read More »

Stepping Strong Innovator Awards – Determining the Course of Trauma Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 17, 2014

Gillian Reny nearly lost her limbs and her life during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to vote in this year’s first annual Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Stepping Strong Innovator Awards, a competition that supports innovative advances in bone regeneration, limb transplantation, stem cell technology, orthopedic and plastic surgery, and bioengineering.

The competition is one of three Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund initiatives that have been developed to promote trauma-related research and improve trauma care. Established by the Reny family last February, the fund was inspired by their daughter Gillian, a young student and aspiring dancer who nearly lost her limbs and her life during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Gillian not only survived, but also recovered the use of her legs through her own commitment and a collaborative effort among dedicated BWH physicians, rehabilitation therapists, nurses, and other specialists.

This year’s Stepping Strong Innovator Awards finalists are Indranil Sinha, MD, E.J. Caterson, MD, PhD, and Matthew Carty, MD. Their innovative research concepts include a new surgical approach to help patients with lower limb amputations achieve normal function; a wound healing technology that promotes tissue regeneration while preventing infection; and a technique that uses the body’s own stem cells to help muscles heal after traumatic injuries.

Read More »