Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Paralysis.
The Spinal Cord.
The spinal cord contains nerve cells and nerve fibres that enable communication to/from the brain. To allow movement to take place the spinal cord transports information (signals) from the brain to the necessary muscles needed for the task at hand. In turn, sensory information is transported back up the spinal cord to the relevant area of the brain to deal with any responses required.
Spinal Cord Injury.
Around 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland are paralysed due to a spinal cord injury. Damage to the spinal cord can result from a number of reasons, such as; trauma, infections, spinal cord haemorrhage/infarct (bleeds/clots) and tumours.
Following an injury to the spinal cord, damaged nerve cells/fibres are not able to generate or transport signals up/down the cord past the point of injury. This results in the injured person losing sensory information and muscle control. This loss results in everyday living, such as; touch, grip, walking, breathing, bladder/bowel control being effected.
Each spinal injury case presents slightly differently, both due to the level of the injury in the spinal cord and also due to the severity of damage at that level and whether or not the damage involves more than one level of the spinal cord.
New Era of Spinal Cord Research.
‘The Big Idea’- a new era of spinal cord research which has the potential to transform the lives of people with spinal cord injury. Challenging the idea that once damaged the spinal cord could never recover or be repaired.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation are at the forefront of the research to develop the use of epidural stimulation to reawaken the connections in the damaged spinal cord using sensory stimulation. The epidural stimulator is surgically implanted in the spinal cord and used to reactivate neural networks.
The initial research involved 4 subjects with complete paralysis. They had improvements not only in their ability to stand but also in sexual function, bladder control, temperature control and cardiovascular fitness. This is ground breaking research and the next stage involving 36 participants is underway.
Christopher Reeve: ‘We live in a time when the words ‘impossible’ and ‘unsolvable’ are no longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary’.
To read more about this exciting research follow the link to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website.
If you or a family member are living with a spinal cord injury, why not call MNC today to chat with one of our specialist neurological physiotherapists to see how therapy can help.