By Teri Nehrenz


In a report written by Senior Staff Writer, Judy George,  for MedPage Today there has been a breakthrough in technology that has successfully helped three paralyzed patients walk within hours of surgery. The technology is called Epidural Electrical Stimulation (EES). EES has normally been used to alleviate pain, but now there may be a wonderful new outlook on this particular technology.

The two doctors involved in the breakthrough cases are, Jocelyne Bloch, MD, of Luasanne University Hospital in Switzerland and Cregoire Courtine, PhD, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. These doctors published their studies in Nature Medicine.

According to the report written by George, The new technology specifically targets the dorsal roots which are involved in lower trunk and leg movement.  “Our breakthrough here is the longer, wider implanted leads with electrodes arranged in a way that corresponds exactly to the spinal nerve roots,” Bloch said. “That gives us precise control over the neurons regulating specific muscles.”

The new, soft implanted leads are surgically placed directly on the spinal cord, underneath the vertebrae. The technology relies on specialized software that “allows us to model the spinal cord so it’s very easy for physical therapists and patients to configure an activity-dependent stimulation program,” Courtine said. By clicking a simple device or a tablet, users can choose what activity they want to perform.

There have been many laboratory and animal studies done testing this technology but the first “In-Man” study included three people who ranged from 29-41 years old.

Within days of the surgery, all three participants could walk up to 300 steps. One participant said he could actually feel his body touching the ground. After some months of intense training, that same participant is able to go up and down steps and hopes to be able to walk a kilometer by the spring.

Will it work on everybody? They don’t know but they are continuing to research this approach with a medical technology company called Onward Medical.

Link to the original article in MedPage Today:

Leave a Reply