This week on Health Tech Weekly I take a look at a recent breakthrough for people with spinal cord injuries that offers hope for the future. I sincerely believe that opportunities for these people to walk and move around again on their own power is just around the corner! Scientists at the University of Louisville in Kentucky have broken ground that many consider to be the “holy grail” of spinal injury research, returning motor control to muscles and limbs that had previously been paralyzed. One researcher was doing a routine test with a paralyzed patient recently where she was using an electrical nerve stimulator to map nerve pathways in the limbs of paralyzed patients. She wasn’t trying to move anything, just map the pathways.
Suddenly the patient said “Hey, I can move my toe!” Neuroscientist Susan Harkema was stunned. She asked him to do it again and to move the other foot. The patient could twitch toes on both feet voluntarily after years of paralysis. That was five years ago and now after further study with neurostimulators and focused physical therapy, every patient they’ve tried this on has gained returned movement to some degree including the ability to lift their legs, wiggle their toes and do sit-ups. This is huge, especially because it has worked on every single patient they’ve tried the treatment on.
The study was funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, in name of the actor who was paralyzed and later died following an equestrian accident. While the stimulator, implanted in the abdomen hasn’t led to walking patients, it has had other positive effects including improved bladder, bowel and sexual function. The improved mobility of lower extremities also led to better overall health with improved cardiovascular function. I think this research is amazing and I’ll keep you up to date on its progress in the future here on the show. We might soon see previously unrecoverable injuries being treated and in some cases healed through modern medical technology more and more frequently which makes our life saving efforts in the field when patients have terrible injuries even more important.
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That will wrap up this episode of Health Tech Weekly. Make sure you follow up over at out website, HTWeekly.com, for more information on this and all of our episodes. There are additional resource links, links to trusted resources for living a healthier lifestyle and more. If you have a comment on this week’s episode please get back in touch with me either over at HTWeekly.com in comment links for each article or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m your host Jamie Davis, the Podmedic. I’ll be back soon with more health technology for you. In the meantime, remember that improving health takes small, simple steps that over time all add up to a healthier you. Why don’t you take a healthier step today?