Using electrodes to treat spinal cord injuries

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Paraplegic man recovers mobility
By Carmen Loren
A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic (US) in collaboration with the University of California have developed a device that used electrical impulses to allow a paralyzed patient to get up and move by himself. The patient was a 26-year-old man with a spinal cord injury that he had suffered in a snowmobile accident. According to the researchers, these early results provide evidence that a combination of this device with intense physical therapy and rehabilitation can help patients with spinal cord injuries regain control of their bodies.

The patient was first given physical therapy for 22 weeks, which allowed his muscles to strengthen. Once this stage of rehabilitation was completed, they implanted an electrode in the epidural space near his spinal cord. They used their new device to emit computer-controlled electrical impulses to the electrode located next to the spinal cord, and this allowed the patient to move. Looking to the future, the researchers propose to undertake additional studies in order to determine if the progress obtained with this stimulator can lead to the recovery of other motor functions.


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