Three men paralyzed due to spinal cord injury can now walk again with electrodes implanted in the spinal cord
Research results have been announced that three men who became paralyzed in the lower body due to a spinal cord injury due to an accident can walk again by the method of 'embedding electrodes in the spinal cord and sending electrical stimulation to move muscles'. rice field. All three subjects were able to get up in just a few hours after the surgery to implant the electrodes, and one subject was able to walk outdoors and eat and drink while standing.
Activity-dependent spinal cord neuromodulation rapidly restores trunk and leg motor functions after complete paralysis | Nature Medicine
New implant offers promise for the paralyzed --EPFL
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A research team led by Professor Gregoire Kurtine , a neuroscientist at the ETH Zurich , and Professor Jocelyne Bloch , a neurosurgeon at Lausanne University Hospital , have developed a spinal-embedded electrical stimulation system controlled by artificial intelligence software. did. The algorithm used in this system is designed to mimic the electrical stimuli that occur in the human body and, by placing it directly in the spinal cord, regulates the neurons that control specific muscle groups.
You can see the details of the device developed by the research team and how a man who was actually paralyzed in the lower body walks using electrodes embedded in the spinal cord by watching the following movie.
New implant offers promise for the paralyzed --YouTube
The female on the left is Professor Bloch and the man on the right is Professor Kurtine. The research team, led by the two, has further improved the device developed in 2018 to develop more precise technology for people with complete kinesthetic paralysis.
The electrode developed by the research team is about 6 cm in length, wider and longer than before, and it activates not only the muscles of the legs but also the muscles of the trunk, so it can stimulate a wide range of areas. It is possible.
Artificial intelligence software that controls electrical stimuli is designed to mimic stimulus patterns that are naturally activated by the brain of a healthy person.
The device is extremely accurate and allows patients to start walking just hours after surgery.
Michelle Rocatti, who had a motorcycle accident in 2017, is one of the patients who had a device developed by the research team implanted in the spinal cord.
After the accident, Rocatti had a complete spinal cord injury and was completely immobile before receiving treatment.
However, even after accepting the fact that his lower body was paralyzed, he said that he had been rehabilitating as much as possible in order to maintain his body in the best condition.
By implanting the electrodes developed by the research team in the spinal cord, it has become possible to rehabilitate walking outdoors while using a walker.
Rehabilitation is carried out with researchers and medical personnel. By tapping the tablet, it is possible to communicate with a device such as a pacemaker attached to Mr. Rocatti's abdomen, and electrodes embedded in the spinal cord send electrical signals to neurons.
As a result of repeated rehabilitation to walk for about 2 hours a day aiming for smoother walking, Mr. Rocatti said that he was able to walk a distance of 1 km 4 months after the operation.
Being able to walk is also very important, but simply being able to 'stand' has great benefits in daily life.
Now, Mr. Rocatti can eat and drink while standing outdoors and have a conversation with his friends. You can also poke the crutches and take a shower while standing, Rocatti said.
In addition, it seems that the two other than Mr. Rocatti are now able to move the muscles of the lower body slightly on their own, so they can swim with the help of the device, pedal the bicycle, and balance with core exercise. The research team says it is now possible to take it.
All of the subjects this time were male, and more than a year had passed since the lower body was paralyzed. In future research, the research team will confirm that women will have the same effect, and will want to test the device in people immediately after the accident, who are more likely to recover.
The research team also said that the computer that sends signals to the electrodes will be made smaller and embedded in the patient so that it can be controlled via a smartphone. The company is expected to succeed in downsizing the computer by the end of 2022, and the research team said it is planning a large-scale study involving 50 to 100 subjects in the United States and Europe.