New Treatment Gives Hope to Paralyzed Patients

Yana Bostongirl

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Even though researchers have observed that electric stimulation as part of rehabilitation has helped those who are paralyzed get on their feet again, a new spinal cord stimulation study that involves the implantation of a 16 electrode device enabled all three trial participants to take a few steps the very next day after surgery.

Dr. Jocelyne Bloch from Lausanne University Hospital and Grégoire Courtine of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are the researchers leading this groundbreaking trial.

One of the participants, Michael Rocatti who sustained a complete spinal cord injury following a motorcycle accident is now able to do activities he hasn't been able to since his accident in 2017 like taking a stroll with his walker. This is what he had to say in an interview that appeared on CNN: "I am free. I can walk wherever I want to."

Following the implantation of the device in the epidural space, a tablet computer is then used to initiate unique sequences of electrical pulses, sent to the epidural electrodes to activate the participants' muscles. The electrodes are delivered electric current from a pacemaker that is embedded just under the skin of the abdomen.

Grégoire Courtine had this to say about the results of the trial to CNN "For the first time, we have not only immediate effect -- though training is still important -- but also individuals with no sensation, no movement whatsoever, have been able to regain full standing and walking independently of the laboratory."

The team hopes to expand the scope of their trial in the US as well as make this technology commercially available in the next three to four years.

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