ELECTRICAL STIMULATION IMPLANTS
This method is at the research stage: the electrodes are implanted and stimulate damaged but still functional nerves of the spinal cord, as well as neurons normally unrelated to motor control, allowing paralyzed patients to walk again.
Main objectives of the method
This method is in the research stage: the electrodes are implanted and stimulate damaged but still functional nerves in the spinal cord, as well as neurons normally unrelated to motor control, allowing paralyzed patients to walk again.
Specificities of the method
Electrodes are surgically implanted under the membrane that protects the spinal cord in their lumbar vertebrae. Once connected to a stimulator, the electrodes send electrical impulses to the part of the spinal cord that controls the leg muscles, and the legs, which until then had been immobile, began to move.
After weeks of training, by turning off the stimulator, patients got up and walked again on their own (less well and for a shorter time than with the stimulator, but they actually regained the use of their legs).
Who is this method for ?
Partial paralysis of the legs. Initially: for rehabilitation after a serious injury (accident).
What parents say about it
Method still in development, only at the study stage
"I hope to see this therapy available in some hospitals in three or four years' time" - Grégoire Courtine, Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Switzerland)
"Within a week, this space-time stimulation restored adaptive control of the paralyzed muscles while walking on the ground. The locomotor performance improved during the rehabilitation. After a few months, participants regained voluntary control of paralyzed muscles without stimulation and were able to walk or cycle in an ecological setting during the space-time stimulation. These results establish a technological framework to improve neurological recovery and support daily living activities after spinal cord injury. »
Source: Targeted neurotechnology restores walking in humans with spinal cord injury, Grégoire Courtine
"Two of the four participants (participants 3 and 4, both AIS category B participants) were able to walk on the floor with assistive devices after intensive physical training with electrical stimulation of the lower spinal cord. The other two participants (participants 1 and 2, both AIS A category participants) successfully completed some independent walking components on the treadmill with body weight support, but without walking above the ground. The four participants were unable to perform these actions in the tests when the stimulator was off. »
Source: Recovery of Over-Ground Walking after Chronic Motor Complete Spinal Cord Injury
"In my opinion, the progress so far has been more scientific than therapeutic. These patients do walk, but with the help of a walker or crutches and, on a daily basis, they still use a wheelchair. But the fact that they manage to walk even when the stimulator is off means that there is a neural plasticity whose importance we didn't suspect and that is an extraordinary discovery".
"These were young, athletic patients with only a partial lesion. It will therefore have to be confirmed that this works for all patients. However, if proprioceptive information is necessary to achieve this effect, it may be complicated in patients who have no sensation in their legs. »
Source: Geneviève Rougon, Scientific Director of the Institute for Spinal Cord and Brain Research.
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