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Electrode implant shows promise for spinal cord injury recovery

People who suffer from spinal cord injuries sometimes lose function permanently in affected limbs or digits. These patients must then learn how to live life by using alternative methods to do things. In some cases, this means that they will need to have caregivers assist them for the rest of their days.

A new study might give some hope to people who are suffering from this type of effect from a spinal cord injury. The study, which has already been done on humans, involves implanting a device that helps to bridge the damaged areas of the spinal nerves.

The 32-lead electrode stimulator gives the spinal cord a new pathway to send and receive signals. This has been compared to using side streets to get traffic flowing when a main thoroughfare is blocked or closed. Instead of relying on the damaged nerves, the spinal cord can use these new pathways, which enables the victim to regain some function.

Similar studies have been done in the past, but this is one of the most promising ones that has been done. In this study, one man regained function in his hands after having the device implanted. He noted that this has helped him run his business in a hands-on manner. He had been burned trying to manipulate a roaster prior to the implant because he lacked the strength to pull a lever. Since the implant, he has found an increase in strength enables him to use the machine.

While there isn't any guarantee that this will work for all patients, it is something that many patients might want to know more about. Seeking compensation might help patients to open up more care options since a successful claim would mean more financial backing.

Source: The Regents of the University of California, "Experimental spinal implant shows promise for restoring voluntary movement," Elaine Schmidt, Dec. 15, 2016

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