NOV 03, 2018 11:16 PM PDT

Neurotechnology Treats Paralysis

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

The latest study at the intersection of technology and neuroscience is the STIMO (STImulation Movement Overground) study, which has established the newest rehabilitation protocols consisting of neurotechnological therapeutic approach to improve recoveries from spinal cord injuries. The study was published in Nature and Nature Neuroscience and was based in Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland.

“STIMO study participant, David Mzee, is now able to take a few steps of his own. He was totally paraplegic after a sports accident.” ~ ScienceDaily

Image Credit: EPFL / Jean-Baptiste Mignardot

The STIMO study approach was successful in treating three paraplegics who sustained cervical spinal cord injuries many years ago. "The human nervous system responded even more profoundly to the treatment than we expected,” explains EPFL neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine. The former paraplegics were now able to walk with the aid of crutches or a walker from targeted electrical stimulation treatments on the lumbar spinal cord and weight-assisted therapy.

"Our findings are based on a deep understanding of the underlying mechanisms which we gained through years of research on animal models. We were thus able to mimic in real time how the brain naturally activates the spinal cord," says Courtine.

Additionally, all the previously paralyzed patients that were involved in the STIMO study recovered voluntary control of their leg muscles. "All the patients could walk using body weight support within one week. I knew immediately that we were on the right path," says Jocelyne Bloch, a CHUV neurosurgeon who was heavily involved in the surgical implantations of the study.

Based on this targeted neurotechnology, the new rehabilitation protocols will lead to improved neurological function by allowing the participants to actively train natural overground walking in comparison to passive training seen in exoskeleton-assisted stepping. "We are building next-generation neurotechnology that will also be tested very early post-injury, when the potential for recovery is high and the neuromuscular system has not yet undergone the atrophy that follows chronic paralysis. Our goal is to develop a widely accessible treatment," adds Courtine.

The results of the study indicated that neurological function was shown to persist beyond electrical stimulation sessions. Essentially, the brain is healing itself.

"The exact timing and location of the electrical stimulation are crucial to a patient's ability to produce an intended movement. It is also this spatiotemporal coincidence that triggers the growth of new nerve connections," says Courtine.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
NASA Considers Building Space Telescopes in Space to Reduce Cost and Risk
Space telescopes are particularly important pieces of equipment, especially for astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and other space professionals that s...
JAN 27, 2020
Technology
JAN 27, 2020
Can Virtual Reality Advance Art Therapy?
Virtual reality (VR) has been a rapidly expanding field with a broad spectrum of applications in health care and medicine. Recent studies have examined if...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
The Air Force's X-37B Plane Spent 780 Days in Space, But Why?
The United States Air Force regularly conducts top-secret missions and science experiments on behalf of the federal government. One of the military branch&...
JAN 27, 2020
Technology
JAN 27, 2020
Molecular Eraser Increases Data Storage Efficiency
Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have explained a hydrogen-related novel method that takes advantage of a natural physical phenomenon to ...
JAN 27, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 27, 2020
Learning More About Cell Dynamics with Holo-Tomographic Microscopy
A new microscopy technique called holo-tomographic microscopy can generate 3D images and does not require labeling....
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Magnetic Field-guided Tethered-probe Can Navigate Complex Vascular Networks
Deep and complex vasculatures such as carotid arteries represent a challenge for diagnosis and treatment because they are buried underneath layers of other...
Loading Comments...