A new treatment that stimulates nerves in the spine shows promise for individuals paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. A study by University of Washington researchers, published in the January 2021 edition of the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, found that six participants regained hand and arm function for several months after the noninvasive therapy.
Review these findings and explore other new avenues of treatment for paralysis.
Background of the study
The study included six people who had limited arm and hand mobility for at least 18 months after a spinal cord injury. They received the treatment with small adhesive patches that deliver electrical pulses to stimulate the injured nerve cells in a five-month protocol that also included physical therapy. The study authors think that this type of therapy could help rebuild the damaged nervous system connections that result from a spinal cord injury.
UW will join other research institutions in a large global clinical trial that attempts to replicate the study results. Several other pending clinical trials are also assessing the impact of spinal cord stimulation on paralysis injuries. In June, Virginia Commonwealth University received a $7 million Department of Defense grant to study epidural stimulation and virtual reality as treatments for the paralysis and chronic pain associated with spinal cord injuries.
Individuals experiencing paralysis after a spinal cord injury may be eligible for legal compensation. For a successful personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a third party’s negligence directly led to the injury and the associated expenses, such as medical treatment and physical therapy.