A paralyzed man makes great strides with spinal stimulation and rehab

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With the help of a spine stimulator and intensive training, a formerly paralyzed man can command his legs to step again. This achievement, described online September 24 in Nature Medicine, inches researchers closer to restoring movement to paraplegic people.

The therapy allows 29-year-old Jered Chinnock to control his leg movements with his thoughts. “This is highly significant,” study coauthor Kendall Lee, a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a news briefing on September 20.

A snowmobile wreck left Chinnock paralyzed, unable to move or feel sensations below the chest. His initial rehabilitation focused on acclimating to life in a wheelchair. But three years after the accident, he enrolled in an aggressive study designed to get him moving.

Surgeons implanted a stimulator that zaps nerve cells on the spinal cord below the site of Chinnock’s injury. With the stimulator on, therapists led Chinnock through exercises to reactivate muscles and nerves. Over two weeks of training with the stimulator, he could stand and, while lying on his side, make voluntary steplike movements. Those results were published last year in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Now, after 43 weeks of intense rehabilitation, Chinnock has made even greater strides. He can step on a treadmill on his own, and, with assistance and a walker, can step across the ground. Over the course of one training session, he was able to travel 102 meters, about the length of an American football field, the researchers report. Because he required assistance, researchers describe Chinnock’s motion as “independent stepping” rather than walking. That’s because, in clinical terms, walking describes “a highly coordinated activity in terms of balance, strength and adaptation to the environment,” said Lee’s coauthor Kristin Zhao, also of the Mayo Clinic

More: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/paralyzed-man-makes-great-strides-spinal-stimulation-and-rehab


FiveWordsForTheFuture - Oct 12, 2018 | Body, Health, Medicine
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