Paralysed men regained some movement with spinal stimulation

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A team at the University of Louisville and University of California reported an experimental technique using epidural stimulation which may have a role in helping paralysed patients regain movement.

The BBC has reported that four men who were completely unable to move their legs before being implanted with the stimulator can now voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes. The device delivers an electrical current of varying frequency and intensity to the lower parts of the spinal cord. The researchers also reported additional benefits of this device which include improved control of the bladder and sexual function of paralysed patients.

Rosaline Wong, medical injury specialist at Ashtons Legal Solicitors, commented: “This is exciting news to people with spinal injuries. Although the American research only involved a small number of patients and the treatment does not repair the damaged spinal cord, it does change the perspective of spinal injury patients as they do not need to think they have a lifelong sentence of paralysis. However, it may be a few more years before spinal injury sufferers can take a big step forward”.

“I am currently working with a spinal injury client who suffers from Cauda Equina Syndrome following a disc prolapse operation. My client’s condition is caused by a blood clot compressing on the bundle of nerves at the base of her spinal column. Hospital doctors noted that she had lost sensation and movement in her lower limbs soon after the spinal surgery, but an MRI scan was not carried out and she was not returned to theatre promptly. As a result of a negligent delay in removing the blood clot, my client is paralysed and suffers from life changing disabilities. She is dependent on her family, she cannot work and suffers from depression. The American ground-breaking research is a promising start and it gives hope to millions of spinal injury sufferers that one day they may bear weight independently, but precisely when this will happen is not known”.

Read more on the BBC website.


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