Spinal Implant Enables Paralyzed Man With Severed Spine to Walk Again


In 2017, Michelle Roccati suffered a motorcycle accident and her lower body was completely paralyzed. In 2020, he walked again thanks to the breakthrough New spinal implant..

Implants can send electrical pulses to his muscles to mimic the work of the brain and one day help people with severe spinal cord injuries to stand, walk and exercise.

It is based on many years of research into the use of electrical pulses to improve the quality of life of people with SCI. This includes a 2018 study by the same team that helped people with partial lower body paralysis walk again.

“It was a very emotional experience,” Roccati told journalists when the electric pulse was activated for the first time, and he took a step forward.

He was one of the three patients involved Study published on Monday In the journal Nature medicineAfter the accident, everyone can’t move their lower body.

However, shortly after the 6-centimeter implant was inserted and its pulse was fine-tuned, the three were able to take a step.

“These electrodes are longer and larger than previously transplanted electrodes, and thanks to this new technology, we have access to more muscle,” said Jocelyne, a neurosurgeon at Lausanne University Hospital, who helped lead the trial.・ Bloch states.

These first steps were breathtaking for the researcher and his patients, but they were difficult and required a support bar and considerable upper body strength.

However, the patient was able to start rehabilitation immediately, and within four months Roccati was able to walk only with a frame to balance.

“It’s not an immediate miracle, it’s not far away,” warned Gregoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who led the study with Bloch.

Roccati now says, “I can stand for two hours. He walks almost a kilometer without stopping.”

The Italian explained that thanks to the implant, he could look into the client’s eyes, have a drink at the standing table, and stand and take a shower.

He and others in the trial You can climb stairs, swim and canoe..

‘bright future’

The improvement relies on electrical stimulation triggered via a computer carried by the patient to activate the pulse pattern.

Two of the patients are now able to activate their muscles slightly without electrical pulses, but only a few.

At least all three men were injured 1 year before research Mr Bloch said the team wants to try out the technology with people soon after the accident.

“All of us think that the sooner we try, the more effective it is,” she said.

I have a challenge. In early recovery, the patient’s abilities are still fluid, it is difficult to set a baseline for measuring progress, and continuous treatment and pain can interfere with rehabilitation.

So far, implants require a healthy spinal cord of 6 centimeters, so they are only suitable for people with injuries to the lower thoracic spinal cord, from the base of the neck to the abdomen.

The idea of ​​using electrical pulses to deal with paralysis derives from the techniques used to regulate pain, and researchers say they believe there is room for further application.

They have also shown that it can regulate hypotension in patients with SCI and will soon publish a study on severe use. Parkinson’s disease disease.

The team warned that significant work remained before implants became available for non-clinical treatments.

They then plan to downsize the computer that activates the pulse, which can also be transplanted to the patient and controlled by a smartphone.

They hope this will be possible this year and are planning a large trial with 50-100 patients in the United States and Europe.

“We believe that neurological stimulation technology has a bright future,” says Courtine.

“I’ll do it as soon as possible.”

© © Agence France-Presse

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