Paralyzed man walks again thanks to groundbreaking spinal implant

03 November, 2018, 07:10 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Прорив у медицині паралізований пацієнт знову почав ходити- 24 Канал

'Oh my god. I'm walking like a horse, ' Tobler said.

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

A breakthrough treatment involving electrical stimulation of the spine has enabled paralyzed patients to walk again, apparently reactivating nerve connections and providing hope for people even years after accidents. It is the third study of its kind, the previous two conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville and the Mayo Clinic. 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. 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.

"Nerve fibers are growing again". When a command from the brain hits a spinal cord injury, that electrical signal dissipates and becomes too weak to effectively activate muscles. "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". Researchers say the biggest challenge for the participants was to learn coordination of the intention to walk in their brain with the targeted electrical stimulation.

"The results were completely unexpected", Courtine says.

All patients involved in the STIMO (STImulation Movement Overground) study recovered voluntary control of leg muscles that had been paralysed for many years. When Courtine had the implant fire continuously in the same patients, that coordination went away. In a second paper also published today in Nature Neuroscience, Courtine's group found that the latter type of stimulation might disrupt a person's sense of where their legs are in relation to their body, or what's known as proprioception.

Прорив у медицині паралізований пацієнт знову почав ходити- 24 Канал
Electrodes enable paralysed patients to walk | News

"This little device that is an impulse generator is giving impulses to the electrode that is located on the spinal cord", said Lausanne neurosurgeon Dr. Jocelyne Bloch in an interview with CBS News. "It doesn't need the brain to walk", Oxley said.

When the device is turned off, he can't move.

However Professor Courtine warned the new treatment was not a "magic pill" for people with spinal cord injuries. This is a huge improvement from before the implant was inserted says Courtine. 'Toward the end is when they were improving the best, ' he says.

And essential, they add, is ensuring that the treatment translates outside of the hospital. Getting EES working is one thing, but they also have an eye on making it possible for patients to use at home-supporting "rehabilitation in clinical settings and use in the community".

Gert-Jan Oskam, who lost the use of both his legs in a cycling accident, had also made very limited progress in rehabilitation before the study.


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