electrical stimulation of damaged areas of the spinal cord

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Functional electrical stimulation

There is great news of hope for people with paralysis. Here scientists researchers from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are using an innovative therapy that has managed to overcome the problem in patients of any age. That is, they could be able to walk again.

These are all people with severe or complete paralysis due to damage to the spinal cord. The study was published in the journal Nature and the achievement is being watched with great excitement and anticipation by health professionals around the world. He says that this step is important for the future of millions of people who had lost their movement. This therapy works through electrical stimulation of a specific group of neurons. According to the scientists, the identification of these structures has proved to be a major step forward in the rehabilitation treatment of movements.

Everyone can walk

All nine patients who took part in the study were followed-up for several months so that scientists could understand how epidural electrical stimulation (EES) would work on paralysis. There were six people with severe injury while some neuronal connections are still preserved, with total paralysis in three even despite the absence of movement.

Based on a new electrode developed by the team, the patients were treated for five months. Receiving the stimulus, all the robots were able to walk with the help of support.

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Reorganization of nerve fibers

For the scientists in the process, the study’s greatest achievement was that all patients, to a greater or lesser degree, continued to progress in motor function after the neurorehabilitation process and even after the stimulation was turned off. This motor progression indicated that the nerve fibers that muscles use for gait had been reorganized.

The researchers wanted to know how this happened, which appears to be a key factor in the development of more efficient treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.


The research is based on a group of neurons, a subset of cells called V2a, present in the brain stem and spinal cord. It was already known that these cells are involved in various aspects of locomotion and limb movement in people without lesions in the area. However, the important role of the group in gait recovery was unknown until now.

Innovative discovery avenues

From the initial results, the team moved on to intensive tests and mice with spinal cord injuries similar to those of the patients were used. To analyze the results, scientists electrically stimulated the spinal cords of animals with a technique called optogenetics, scientists were able to switch specific cells on and off during the process.

Additionally, the team discovered a subset of neurons that, in healthy mice, are not essential for locomotion, but in injured mice, were important for the recovery of motor function. “Scientists establish first 3D ‘molecular mapping’ of spinal cord”, defined neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine in a statement.

According to the scientists, this was the first time researchers were able to visualize spinal cord activity during locomotion. “This model allows the scientists to see the recovery process at the neuron level in an increased degree of detail.” Thus, the team of researchers realized that, after being electrically activated, the SCVsx2::Hoxa10 cells were reconstituted, allowing mobility despite spinal cord injury.

Development of treatments

Patients were monitored at the NeuroRestore laboratory of the Federal Institute of Technology. The group was coordinated by Grégoire Courtine and Jocelyn Block. More studies are needed to develop a complete therapy and target it to the patients who need it.

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Jocelyn Bloch, a neurosurgeon at the University Hospital of Lausanne and co-author of the article, said, “It is extremely important for neuroscientists to understand the specific role that each neuronal subpopulation plays in an activity as complex as walking.

The scientists’ new study, in which nine patients were able to recover some degree of motor function thanks to this transplant, is giving us important information about the process of reorganization of spinal cord neurons. One can try to manipulate these neurons to regenerate bone. paralysis, Anne hathaway hot, Functional electrical stimulation, Functional electrical stimulation


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