Five men with motor paralysis were able to move for the first time following non-invasive treatment that delivered electrical simulation to their spinal cords.
The paralysed men were able to move their legs during trials of this new treatment and researchers say they are hopeful of developing a therapy to all patients suffering from spinal cord injury’s.
“These encouraging results provide continued evidence that spinal cord injury may no longer mean a life-long sentence of paralysis and support the need for more research,” said Roderic Pettigrew, one of the researchers, in a news release. “The potential to offer a life-changing therapy to patients without requiring surgery would be a major advance; it could greatly expand the number of individuals who might benefit from spinal stimulation. It’s a wonderful example of the power that comes from combining advances in basic biological research with technological innovation.”
The five men, who had each been paralyzed for more than two years, underwent a series of 45 minute sessions, once a week, for about 18 weeks. This allowed the scientists to determine the effects of non-invasive electrical stimulation on their ability to move their legs.
At the beginning of the study, the men’s legs only moved when the stimulation was strong enough to generate involuntary movements. However, when the patients attempted to move their legs further while receiving stimulation and physical training, the men were able to double their range of motion when voluntarily moving their legs while receiving stimulation.
The findings could be huge in terms of creating a treatment for those that sufer from paralysis. With that said, more research will need to be conducted.
The findings are published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.