Three Paralyzed Patients Now Walk, Thanks to Breakthrough Technology

  • Three Paralyzed Patients Now Walk, Thanks to Breakthrough Technology

Three Paralyzed Patients Now Walk, Thanks to Breakthrough Technology

One of the scientists on the project says that years of animal study allowed them to create a stimulation system that mimics how the brain naturally activates the spinal cord. "It is also this spatiotemporal coincidence that triggers the growth of new nerve connections". While he can take a few steps with crutches or stand up with another person for support, "I should be able to have a BBQ standing on my own in the near future". The implanted device was developed to treat pain, but when combined with 5 months of intensive physical therapy, it restored movement years after a paralyzing injury, researchers reported yesterday in Nature.

The implant is placed beneath the dura mater, directly onto the spinal cord. "They need to be mentally active all the time in order to close the loop with the electrical stimulation that ultimately produces the muscle activity".

Using an implanted pulse generator with real-time triggering capabilities, we delivered trains of spatially selective stimulation to the lumbosacral spinal cord with timing that coincided with the intended movement. When an injury interrupts the connection between the spinal cord and brain, it prevents signals from reaching below the site of the injury, EES can help to bridge the gap by providing electrical signals to the spinal cord below the injury site. 'The collision of signals is confusing the brain and the patient, ' she says. Moritz says this staccato action might be why Courtine's patients reportedly showed stronger signs of recovery than those in previous studies did. After a spinal cord injury many people lose other bodily functions such as sweating, bladder and bowel control, and sexual function.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) - The science of spinal cord stimulation has been fine-tuned to the point that three previously paralyzed patients can now walk with minimal assistance, Swiss researchers report.

This study achieves an unprecedented level of precision in electrically stimulating spinal cords.

"There is still a lot of work to do to change the lives of these people", Courtine said.

Proprioception is your ability to know the exact position of your legs at all times, allowing you to precisely coordinate their movements, Oxley explained.

Going forward, Courtine said he hoped to see the technique combined with biological treatments involving nerve fix. Courtine thinks the spine might be regenerating nerve fibers that cross the injury like new lanes being built around a broken highway section.

The University of Technology Sydney will have a research centre capable of administering this treatment in trials within the next year, according to Professor Vissel.

"We're developing a virtual reality walking intervention to restore touch perception in people with some types of spinal injury", she said.

Second, and even more important, the research team fine-tuned the stimulation to work in conjunction with the patients' proprioceptive sensory system.