For those facing spinal cord injury, the promise of being able to do things that were once done without thinking, such as standing up and walking from one place to another, is within grasp! The focus on once again being able to walk has resulted in many approaches to treatment. The use of electrical stimulator implants is one such approach that has had some success.
In a study, partially funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, conducted in North America, four men who are paralyzed from the chest down, underwent procedures that surgically implanted electrical stimulators in their spines. The approach taken in this study varies from previous studies because unlike earlier studies where the stimulators were implanted in the hips and legs of paralyzed individuals, in this case the stimulators are actually implanted at the spine. This change in location makes it possible for the patients to control their muscles on their own.
Since receiving the implants, all four of the men have been able to get up from their wheelchairs on their own and stand. They are now working toward walking.
Being able to stand on their own is not the only benefit these men have experienced as a result of the implantation. Their mobility has been increased. In addition, they also have increased control over their bladder and bowels, and have been able to once again have sex.
The study is being expanded and unsurprisingly, thousands of individuals have applied to be a part of it. It is fair to say that many with this condition will be waiting for the results of the expanded study.
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