Electrical stimulation to the spine helps paralyzed man walk with assistance

spinal

For many patients, total lower limb paralysis caused by spinal cord damage means a lifetime in a wheelchair. But a new treatment might mean the diagnosis isn’t so permanent: A 29-year-old man paralyzed by a snowmobile accident in 2013 is walking again, according to a new paper, thanks to a device that delivers electrical stimulation to his spine.

It started with 22 weeks of physical therapy for the patient, to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to regain his ability to walk on his own, [researcher Kendall] Lee told reporters during a press briefing.

Then a neurosurgery team at the Mayo clinic implanted an electrode, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pain relief, in the man’s back. Using a wireless controller, they could direct the device to provide pulses of electrical current straight to his spine.

Related article:  Is gene therapy the answer to spinal cord injuries?

Eventually, the man was able to take 331 steps using a front-wheeled walker and occasional assistance from trainers. This was the equivalent of 111 yards, or more than the length of a football field. Turning off the device halted the man’s ability to walk, meaning the electrical stimulation was almost certainly the cause of his regained mobility.

This isn’t the first time electrical stimulation has helped a person walk, but the new study confirms that that first example was no fluke.

Read full, original post: Electrical Stimulation Helped A Man With Paralyzed Legs Walk Again

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