A new non-invasive procedure reveals that spinal cord stimulation could help fix paralysis. This is quite the breakthrough in the medicine field as spinal cord stimulation allowed disabled men to move their legs voluntarily. Paralyzed people are not encouraged to hope for something better ever since their diagnosis and they are advised to live with and accept the fact that they might never move again.
Reggie Edgarton, a professor of neurosurgery and neurobiology said that saying just this to these patients is incredibly ridiculous. His statement was backed by this new discovery that spinal cord stimulation has allowed five men to move their legs, after given the same speech of discouragement.
The scientists gave the paralyzed men, with ages between 19 and 56, 45 minute long sessions every week of this kind of spinal cord stimulation treatment for a period of 18 weeks in order to see if any progress was made. Other earlier treatments were quite similar to the new method; however most of them implied implants placed surgically at the base of the spine. Those implants would then have sent a constant flow of impulses into the spine. Four men that were previously paralyzed regained their ability to walk because of this treatment in a research conducted by Edgarton in 2011 and 2014.
The recent treatment involves a method named transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which is a non-invasive procedure involving the placing of an electrode against the lower back of the patient. The device sends electrical stimulation through the patient’s skin to the spinal cord. During the treatment, the legs of the men were suspended with the help of some braces in order to eliminate the resistance of gravity.
In the beginning, this king of treatment only led to involuntary moves from the patients. However, after a number of weeks, the men were able to flex their muscles. The patients doubled their abilities for voluntary movement after just 4 sessions of spinal cord stimulation.
In order to boost the treatment even further, during the last four weeks of the study, the men were also given a drug named buspirone twice a day, which is an anti-anxiety drug that imitates serotonin. The drug proved to be successful in allowing partially paralyzed mice to move voluntarily.
Even though the current treatment and study will definitely require a lot more time to develop and more research, it’s an amazing step forward towards a moment when paralysis might not be a life sentence any more.
Image Source: nydailynews.com