Breaking News
January 19, 2019 - New Leash on Life? Staying Slim Keeps Pooches Happy, Healthy
January 19, 2019 - Men and women remember pain differently
January 19, 2019 - Rising air pollution linked with increased ER visits for breathing problems
January 19, 2019 - Study uses local data to model food consumption patterns among Seattle residents
January 19, 2019 - The brain’s cerebellum plays role in controlling reward and social behaviors, study shows
January 19, 2019 - Relationship between nurse work environment and patient safety
January 19, 2019 - Pioneering surgery restores movement to children paralyzed by acute flaccid myelitis
January 19, 2019 - Genetic variants linked with risk tolerance and risky behaviors
January 19, 2019 - New research provides better understanding of our early human ancestors
January 19, 2019 - First-ever tailored reporting guidance to improve patient care and outcomes
January 19, 2019 - 4.6 percent of Massachusetts residents have opioid use disorder
January 19, 2019 - New study suggests vital exhaustion as risk factor for dementia
January 19, 2019 - New antibiotic discovery heralds breakthrough in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria
January 19, 2019 - Ural Federal University scientists synthesize a group of multi-purpose fluorophores
January 19, 2019 - Researchers identify new therapeutic target in the fight against chronic liver diseases
January 19, 2019 - Preparation, characterization of Soyasapogenol B loaded onto functionalized MWCNTs
January 19, 2019 - FDA Approves Ontruzant (trastuzumab-dttb), a Biosimilar to Herceptin
January 19, 2019 - Tobacco use linked with higher use of opioids and sedatives
January 19, 2019 - Study delves deeper into developmental dyslexia
January 19, 2019 - Anti-vaccination movement one of the top health threats in 2019 says WHO
January 19, 2019 - Newly developed risk score more effective at identifying type 1 diabetes
January 19, 2019 - Highly effective protocol to prepare cannabis samples for THC/CBD analysis
January 19, 2019 - Prinston Pharmaceutical Inc. Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Irbesartan and Irbesartan HCTZ Tablets Due to Detection of a Trace Amount of Unexpected Impurity, N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) in the Products
January 19, 2019 - How does solid stress from brain tumors cause neuronal loss, neurologic dysfunction?
January 19, 2019 - $14.7 million partnership to supercharge vaccine development
January 19, 2019 - Ian Fotheringham receives Charles Tennant Memorial Lecture award
January 19, 2019 - Brain vital signs detect neurophysiological impairments in players with concussions
January 19, 2019 - Lack of job and poor housing conditions increased likelihood of people attending A&E
January 19, 2019 - Novel targeted drug delivery system improves conventional cancer treatments
January 19, 2019 - Rutgers study finds gene responsible for spread of prostate cancer
January 19, 2019 - Complications Higher Than Expected for Invasive Lung Tests
January 19, 2019 - 3-D printed implant promotes nerve cell growth to treat spinal cord injury
January 19, 2019 - Automated texts lead to improved outcomes after total knee or hip replacement surgery
January 19, 2019 - Poor cardiorespiratory fitness could increase risk of future heart attack, finds new study
January 19, 2019 - Drinking soft drinks while exercising in hot weather may increase risk of kidney disease
January 19, 2019 - Formlabs 3D prints anatomical models
January 19, 2019 - Heart-Healthy Living Also Wards Off Type 2 Diabetes
January 19, 2019 - Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media (for Parents)
January 19, 2019 - Metabolite produced by gut microbiota from pomegranates reduces inflammatory bowel disease
January 19, 2019 - Researchers examine how spray from showers and toilets expose us to disease causing bacteria
January 19, 2019 - Behavioral experiments confirm that additional neurons improve brain function
January 19, 2019 - New study compares performance of real-time infectious disease forecasting models
January 19, 2019 - Obesity can be risk factor for developing renal cell carcinoma, confirms study
January 19, 2019 - New regulation designs on cigarette packs direct smokers’ attention to health warnings
January 19, 2019 - QIAGEN receives first companion diagnostic approval in Japan
January 19, 2019 - Study explores role of Dunning-Kruger effect in anti-vaccine attitudes
January 19, 2019 - Newly identified subset of immune cells may be key to fighting chronic inflammation
January 19, 2019 - New immune response regulators discovered
January 18, 2019 - Poor blood oxygenation during sleep predicts chance of heart-related death
January 18, 2019 - First international consensus on the diagnosis and management of fibromuscular dysplasia
January 18, 2019 - Rapid resistance gene sequencing technology can hasten identification of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
January 18, 2019 - Researchers develop artificial enzymatic pathway for synthesizing isoprenoids in E. coli
January 18, 2019 - Scientists advise caution in immunotherapy research
January 18, 2019 - How children across the world develop language
January 18, 2019 - Columbia Medical Student Receives McDonogh Scholarship
January 18, 2019 - Secretive ‘Rebate Trap’ Keeps Generic Drugs For Diabetes And Other Ills Out Of Reach
January 18, 2019 - Plant based diet could be the best option for the planet says commission
January 18, 2019 - New conservation practice could reduce nitrogen from agricultural drainage, study shows
January 18, 2019 - UIC researchers receive $1.7 million NCI grant to study Southeast Asian fruit
January 18, 2019 - New study determines the fate of DNA derived from genetically modified food
January 18, 2019 - Scientists develop new gene therapy that prevents axon destruction in mice
January 18, 2019 - Study finds critically low HPV vaccination rates among younger adolescents in the U.S.
January 18, 2019 - Brain cells involved in memory play key role in reducing future eating behavior
January 18, 2019 - Risk for Conversion of MS Varies With Different Therapies
January 18, 2019 - Investigational cream may help patients with inflammatory skin disease
January 18, 2019 - Medical school news office receives six writing awards | News Center
January 18, 2019 - County By County, Researchers Link Opioid Deaths To Drugmakers’ Marketing
January 18, 2019 - Research reveals risk for developing more than one mental health disorder
January 18, 2019 - Scientists discover a dramatic pattern of bone growth in female mice
January 18, 2019 - Study finds link between lengthy periods of undisturbed maternal sleep and stillbirths
January 18, 2019 - New nuclear medicine method could improve detection of primary and metastatic melanoma
January 18, 2019 - Combination therapy shows high efficacy in treating people with leishmaniasis and HIV
January 18, 2019 - Health Tip: Don’t Ignore Changes in Skin Color
January 18, 2019 - Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children
January 18, 2019 - Eliminating the latent reservoir of HIV
January 18, 2019 - Pain From The Government Shutdown Spreads. This Time It’s Food Stamps
January 18, 2019 - Newly discovered regulatory mechanism helps control fat metabolism
January 18, 2019 - New rapid blood tests could speed up TB diagnosis, save the NHS money
January 18, 2019 - Researchers develop intelligent system for ‘tuning’ powered prosthetic knees
January 18, 2019 - Monoclonal antibody pembrolizumab prolongs survival in patients with squamous cell carcinoma
Three Paralyzed Patients Now Walk, Thanks to Breakthrough Technology

Three Paralyzed Patients Now Walk, Thanks to Breakthrough Technology

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 — 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.

They can do so with only the aid of crutches or a walker, thanks to incredibly precise electrical stimulation of their spinal cord combined with intensive rehabilitation, the scientists said.

In fact, two of the patients can take several steps without electrical stimulation, a sign that there’s been growth of new nerve connections, said senior researcher Gregoire Courtine, chair of spinal cord repair at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“Walking hands-free really felt more or less like walking normally, and that was a very big achievement,” said 28-year-old patient David M., who became paralyzed after a sports accident in 2010 left him with no control of his left leg and only residual control of his right.

Previous studies have revealed that “the spinal cord has its own intelligence system that controls walking,” said Dr. Thomas Oxley, director of innovation strategy for the Mount Sinai Health System Department of Neurology in New York City.

“If you think about cutting the head off a chicken, it can still walk around. It doesn’t need the brain to walk,” Oxley said.

Implanted electrodes that provide direct electrical stimulation to the spinal cord have been shown to allow movement of previously paralyzed legs.

For example, last month the Mayo Clinic reported on the case of a 29-year-old paraplegic who now can walk about the length of a football field with assistance.

The new study takes the medicine and technology of spinal stimulation even further in two ways.

First, patients were implanted with an array of electrodes down the spinal cord, which allowed researchers to target individual muscle groups in the legs.

“Specific configurations of electrodes are activated to control the appropriate groups of muscles, mimicking the signals that the brain would deliver to produce walking,” explained co-researcher Dr. Jocelyne Bloch, a neurosurgeon with Lausanne University Hospital. Bloch compared the targeted stimulation to the precision of a Swiss watch.

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

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

“When you close your eyes, you know where your leg is, without having to look at it,” Oxley said. “There’s a complex network of information coming back into the spinal cord from the leg about where your leg is in space.”

Continuous nerve stimulation overloads a person’s proprioceptive system, researchers discovered.

“If you stimulate the entire spinal cord, you will activate all the muscles at the same time and block leg movement,” Courtine said.

When the stimulation was fed in pulses that worked in conjunction with the proprioceptive system, patients achieved remarkable improvement in their ability to move previously paralyzed legs in coordination, the researchers said.

All three study participants were able to walk with body-weight support after only one week spent calibrating the nerve stimulation to their individual brain patterns, Courtine said.

“They figured out how to deliver these pulses of stimulation into the spinal cord at the right pace, at the right beat, that would not disrupt that proprioceptive sensory system,” Oxley said.

Long, high-intensity training sessions appear to have triggered the nervous system’s ability to reorganize nerve pathways around damaged nerves, researchers said. As a result, patients have improved motor function even when the electrical stimulation has been turned off.

Another patient, Sebastian Tobler, said he can now walk a few steps hands-free in the lab with the aid of electrical stimulation. He can even trike uphill outdoors, using a special three-wheeled cycle that uses both hand- and leg-operated cranks.

“I can support more and more weight on my legs and have more and more control with my legs,” said Tobler, 47, who had both legs completely paralyzed after a 2013 mountain biking accident.

The patients were given watches that adapt the electrical stimulation to their needs based on voice commands.

But none of the researchers would say that a full cure for paralysis is on its way, based on this research.

“I hope we can develop some kind of walker or exoskeleton combined with stimulation so we can get people out of the wheelchair,” Courtine said. “They might not walk around, but they will feel better and will have a lot of health benefits associated with this mobilization of their body.”

The advance offered by this study is a “real breakthrough” in terms of restoring mobility to some paralyzed patients, even though they likely won’t achieve fully independent walking, Oxley said.

“Cure is a very strong word, and this is not a cure,” Oxley said. “This is the first possible treatment that can potentially change the course of rehabilitation outcome in terms of walking.”

The findings were published Nov. 1 in the journals Nature and Nature Neuroscience.

More information

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has more about functional electrical stimulation.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2018

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles