Promising an End to Paralysis

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Standing atop a mountain peak, swimming across a lake, or even just running in a park; physical activities like these keep us in good shape and are great recreational activities. However, something most of us never pay attention to is the ability that allows us to do such things in the first place – moving our legs on our own accord. In the day to day hustle it’s easy to take walking for granted. It’s just something we do to get where we need to go.

However, there are a small percentage of people that is not capable of doing something as simple as this without some form of assistance. Yes, I am pointing to people who suffer from a physical ailment such as paralysis. But those days of frustration may soon be coming to an end.

This hope stems from a study for a non-invasive technique that involves electrically stimulating the spinal cord. When this technique was used on men that voluntarily participated in the study, they were able to voluntarily move their own legs for the first time since suffering from complete paralysis. The patent that this study pertains to is US20140296752 A1. It describes “non-invasive methods to induce motor control in a mammal subject to spinal cord or other neurological injuries. In certain embodiments the method involves administering transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) to the mammal at a frequency and intensity that induces the desired locomotor activity.

Electrical activity of the leg muscles and movements in the leg joints evoked by tESCS with frequencies of 5 and 30 Hz. Source: US Patent 20140296752 A1

Electrical activity of the leg muscles and movements in the leg joints evoked by tESCS with frequencies of 5 and 30 Hz.
Source: US Patent 20140296752 A1

By the end of the study and following the addition of buspirone, these men were able to move their legs with no stimulation at all and on average achieved the same results as when having the spinal cord stimulated. The effect was immense such that it felt as if the technique reawakened some networks so that the individuals learned to use these networks with little to no stimulation.

The study was done only on completely paralyzed people, the thought being that they would be the hardest to help. So partially paralyzed people should have an even better response to this treatment. It’s especially helpful for those who don’t want to or can’t have any more invasive surgeries done to their spinal cord. This is a potential life-changing therapy that can be offered to patients in a non-surgical manner. If this methodology catches up, then the world may soon find paralysis doing an aka smallpox.

(Feature image source: https://pixabay.com/en/wheelchair-disabled-1230101/)

Alfredo Sanchez
Alfredo Sanchez

Alfredo Sanchez enjoys reading about the impossible. When not doing that you can usually find him researching about the newest video game technologies. If it's new and interesting, you can bet he will hear about it.


1 Comment

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