Spinal Cord Stimulator Moves Limbs That Were Paralyzed for Years

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 07:04 AM

By Nick Sanchez

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
A new therapy that uses a spinal cord stimulator is helping people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries move limbs and digits for the first time in years.

The new study published in the journal Brain worked with four paraplegic subjects who've had their injuries for over two years — previously thought to be the point of no return for rehabilitation of any kind — helping them move previously immobile legs, knees, ankles and toes, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The study, funded in part by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, marks the first time electrical stimulation applied directly to the spinal cord has enabled voluntary movement. The movements are small in some cases, such as wiggled toes and feet, however in other cases subjects have been able to lift and swing their legs, and even sit up without assistance from their arms.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

No subjects have regained the ability to walk yet, but the neuroscientists say the new therapy shows the potential to one day help them do so.

"It's been a long-held belief by scientists and clinicians alike that if you have no ability to move after two years, there's not any possibility that you're going to be able to move. What these results show is that is not the case," said Susan Harkema, one of the study researchers who is also rehabilitation research director at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville.

Altogether, the study was conducted by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The sensors used for stimulation were made by Medtronic Inc., and were implanted into the subjects' backs. The subjects saw their progress in regaining physical functions over the course of roughly eight months of physical rehab, with many able to see results in just the first few days.

Scientists hypothesize the stimulation increases the spinal cord's receptivity to brain signals, even if they are relatively weak.

For some subjects like Dustin Shillcox, 29, the researchers were initially skeptical the therapy would have any effect. He was in a car accident in 2010, and was not only unable to move his lower body, but also unable to feel it, suggesting there was a complete disconnection between the brain and the legs. But after just one week, Shillcox was able to make voluntary movements, which would later lead to positive side-developments such as greater bone density in his legs.

Researchers intend to conduct a bigger study with eight subjects in the coming months, with the goal of developing a stimulation device that can target certain areas of the spinal cord more efficiently.



Urgent: Assess Your Heart Attack Risk in Minutes. Click Here.

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Send me more news as it happens.
 
 
Get me on The Wire
Send me more news as it happens.
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
You May Also Like

Stonehenge Discovery Could Halt Plans for Highway Tunnel

Monday, 22 Dec 2014 08:56 AM

A discovery by archaeologists near Stonehenge may offer the best clues yet on how Britain's early ancestors in the struc . . .

Megamall Arrests: Dozens Held as Crowd Protests Against Police

Monday, 22 Dec 2014 07:50 AM

About a dozen people were arrested after hundreds protesting police violence shut down part of the Mall of America in Mi . . .

Dr. Evil's 'Saturday Night Live' Skit Hits North Korea, Sony

Monday, 22 Dec 2014 07:26 AM

Mike Myers opened "Saturday Night Live" with his Dr. Evil character taking on both North Korea and Sony Pictures after t . . .

Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved