Hunters Story Tendon TransferHunter’s Journey: Tendon Transfer

Hunter Garstin may have been considered a “typical” high school freshman. With a strong drive to accomplish his goals, he played basketball and was on the Independence High School wrestling team in Franklin, Tennessee. But on Dec. 7, 2013, Hunter suffered a spinal cord injury during a wrestling match in Huntsville, AL. The devastating injury left him unable to walk or use his hands.

Over the next few years, he was in and out of school as he traveled back and forth to Atlanta for rehab. Despite all of this, Hunter went on to graduate high school on time; followed by graduation from Western Kentucky in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychological Science.

With undergrad behind him, Hunter is taking time to work on his physical needs before progressing farther in his education or career. “I want to take some time to work on strengthening my hands and having better thumb movement and grip.”

That goal brought him to Kleinert Kutz for tendon transfer surgery.
Tendon transfer surgery is a type of hand surgery that is performed to improve lost hand function.

Tendon transfer surgery is necessary when a certain muscle function is lost because of a nerve injury. If a nerve is injured and cannot be repaired, then the nerve no longer sends signals to certain muscles. Those muscles are paralyzed, and their muscle function is lost. Tendon transfer surgery can be used to attempt to replace that function. A functioning tendon is shifted from its original attachment to a new one to restore the action that has been lost.

Following Hunter’s post-op appointment last week, his mother Emily shared her excitement along with a video on Facebook showing his progress,

“Exciting news from Louisville! Transfers are looking great and lots of new movement!!! Thumb movement…AMAZING. Hunter can push himself in his wheelchair and drive again. Now that he’s 6 weeks out more intensive therapy is starting. Dr. Galvis isn’t totally satisfied with the tightness in his fingers, so when they do his right hand they will work from the tops of his fingers instead of inside his palm. If this shows better function then they will go back in and do the same with his left hand. So thankful for Kleinert Kutz and their exceptional skills to problem solve and get the best possible outcome for patients with SCI. The tendon transfers Hunter had are very complex.”

To follow Hunter’s Story, search for and like "Prayers for Hunter Garstin" on Facebook.

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Kleinert Kutz hand specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (502) 561-4263 for hand emergencies or to schedule an appointment.





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