Spinal cord stimulation has helped paralyzed patients to get out

SL, Вторник 25 Сентябрь 2018 - 17:54:00

Some people suffering from paralysis of the lower extremities, was able to re-do the steps after the implantation of a device for spinal cord stimulation.

Recently two different teams of scientists presented the results of their work showed how the spinal cord stimulation along with physical training allows patients to get out after his injuries.

In the first study specialists the University of Louisville, presented in a scientific publication The New England Journal of Medicine, describes the results of treatment of four paralyzed people.

As reported in the press release of the research work is based on two different methods of treatment: epidural spinal cord stimulation and physical training.

Epidural stimulation based on the continuous electrical pulse, which the device emits at different frequencies and different intensities of the lower spinal cord of volunteers (in the lumbosacral area), and thereby mimics brain signals that normally initiate the movement. Exposure correspond to neuronal networks that largely control movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes.

The study relies on earlier work, the results of which were published in may 2011 in the Lancet. Then the scientists evaluated the effects of epidural stimulation in one patient, Rob Summers (Rob Summers), which restored a number of motor functions as a result of implantation.

The second important part of the study – physical training aimed at retraining the spinal cord to "remember" the model walk. During this workout the body weight of a person supported by special equipment, while the medical personnel moves the legs to simulate walking on a treadmill.

In the course of this work, the surgeons implanted an epidural stimulator in certain areas of the spinal cord. More precisely, the authors report the implantation of a set of 16 electrodes in the lower part of the back four paralyzed patients. All of them received serious injuries a few years ago.

The study participants began daily training for eight to nine weeks prior to surgery: five days a week for two hours a day. As noted above, the training was designed to help the spinal cord to literally remember how to stand, to walk and walk.

Experts are not noticed any significant changes in the motor abilities of the participants prior to the implant, and after epidural stimulation patients could take the first steps when the stimulator.

After all of the lessons in two patients of the four eventually were able to walk the earth within a relatively short period of time without assistance.

For example, Kelly Thomas (Kelly Thomas) were able to walk 81 after a stimulation session for 15 weeks, although she had to wear a support frame for walking, and Jeff Marquis (Jeff Marquis) managed to advance slightly more than 90 meters without a break after 278 sessions for 85 weeks.

"The first day I did own steps, was the emotional point in my recovery that I will never forget. One minute I was walking with the help of coaches, when they stopped, I continued to go on their own. Amazing what can be achieved when the human body with the help of research and technologies," says Thomas.

Two other people were able to stand and sit, one was also able to do some stepping movements on a treadmill with assistance.

"It's incredible to be there and really watch how they make their first steps. It's an emotional time for them because they do what they were told, they will never be able to do it again," admits Dr. Claudia Angeli (Claudia Angeli) from the University of Louisville.

"The study shows that some of the brain and spine can be recovered several years after spinal cord injury, because the participants with paralysis were able to walk and stand. They restored the mobility of the body and a number of motor functions without physical assistance when using the epidural stimulator and focus on the moment," says Susan Harkema (Susan Harkema), one of the authors of the study.


In another work of a group of scientists, which included Russian specialists, also reports on the success of the same approach. The study was published in Nature Medicine.

Scientists have shown how, after 43 weeks of training, a 29-year-old paralyzed patient was able to go unassisted on the treadmill (where he held onto the rails) and on the ground through the movable frame and a little help from man, in order to maintain balance. Meanwhile, technology has not helped the man to regain feeling in his legs.


It is noted that the subjects in both studies were unable to achieve a similar action when you turn off the stimulator. As Angeli said, it takes a lot of time for programming the device to get the best results.

Despite the fact that technology gives hope for recovery to many patients with similar injuries, scientists believe that we should spend a little more work done before treatment will be available for the mass. Experts say that the required tests with the participation of more people, as well as possible adjustments and improvements of the treatment process.

We will add that earlier the authors of the project "Conduct.Science" (nauka.vesti.ru) talked about other ways of dealing with paralysis. In particular, we reported the neuroprosthesis, which returned for the first time a paralyzed patient the ability to movements, resoruce, which helped the patients to regain the ability to simple movements, and soft exoskeleton, designed for the same purpose.

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