Spinal cord injuries can be very dangerous as they can often leave the patient confined to a wheelchair. However, a revolutionary new spinal implant has enabled a wheelchair-bound man with a spinal cord injury to walk again. Two other men who received the implants were able to regain control of their leg muscles after electrical stimulators were implanted.
Research published in the journal Nature shows that these implants help compensate for the damage done to the spinal cords. Neural signals from the brain are transported to other parts of the body through the spinal cord. If it gets damaged, the signals have trouble getting through, which can lead to disability and paralysis.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Insititute of Technology conducted an experiment which used electrical implants to bridge the gaps in the spinal cord. The implants helped carry messages from the brain through the damaged area to the non-damaged part of the spinal cord.
It’s further mentioned that the treatment’s effects lasted even after the electrical signals stopped. All of the participants kept some improvement in muscle movement after the stimulation therapy concluded.
The researchers do caution that this epidural electrical stimulation treatment is currently in the early stages and it’s unclear how many people can benefit from it. The sample size is very small currently. What it does do is provide more evidence to support the advances being made to discover new treatments for spinal cord injury.