Paralysis Treatment: Patients Regain Leg Movement with Spinal Stimulation

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By Parismita Goswami | April 9, 2014 10:52 PM EST

With the help of electric impulses, researchers have helped four paralyzed patients regain leg movement, according to a new study.

Paralyzed patient [Representational Image] (Reuters)

The study, conducted by the Pavlov Institute of Physiology and University of Louisville, UCLA, showed that epidural stimulation helped Rob Summers of Portland, Oregon, a paralyzed patient, move his limb.

Three more men have been benefitted from the technology and could slightly move their legs, after undergoing a device implantation that sends electrical signals to their spinal cord.

"Two of the four subjects were diagnosed as motor and sensory complete injured with no chance of recovery at all," said lead author Claudia Angeli, at University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC).

"Because of epidural stimulation, they can now voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes. This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery," Angeli said in a news release.

The electrical stimulator employed in the treatment transmits electric pulses of different intensities and frequencies to definite locations on the spinal cord and makes it reuse the lost neural network and take control over the movements of limbs.

The treatment also boosted the overall health of the patients. They reportedly had better blood circulation and muscle mass. The study has been a promising venture and could help thousands of people suffering from spinal cord injury.

"At the age of 22, my doctors were telling me, 'Here's a wheelchair, get used to it,' (Now) I feel like I'm better than I was. I don't feel like I'm going backwards anymore. ... I can pursue something in life." USA Today quoted Stephenson of Mount Pleasant as saying.

(Edited by Vishnuprasad S Pillai) 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Paralyzed patient [Representational Image] (Reuters)
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