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'Dream come true' research has paralyzed men moving again

'Dream Come True' Research Has Paralyzed Men Moving Again
Paralysis is usually permanent, but for four men suffering from spinal cord injuries, there is new hope -- and scientists say all it took was a zap.

WRC-TV reports that "an electrical stimulator was implanted on [their] spinal cords ... researchers found the stimulator helped the men move their toes, ankles and knees on their own."

Spinal cord zaps have been used before, but according to Susan Harkema, the lead researcher at University of Louisville, this is the first time a patient's muscles have shown voluntary activity when electrical stimulation was applied directly to the spinal cord.

These preliminary findings will be published in the journal Brain on Tuesday.

The stimulation works by retraining the nerve to communicate with the brain, but this progress came as a surprise.

CNN reports the goal of Harkema's study was to analyze how nerve pathways reacted when electrical stimulation was applied to broken spinal cords. So when one of the patients said, 'I can move my toe,' Harkema was shocked.

The paralyzed men were, too. In a phone interview in 2011 with NBC, one of the first men to receive the stimulator spoke about his improvements.

"Being able to move my toes, ankles, knees on command... it was absolutely incredible ... there are not enough words to describe how I felt. At one point it was just a dream, and now it's reality."

If that dream-come-true can be proven effective in more subjects, some doctors say it could alter the prognosis of the thousands that are suffering from spinal cord injuries in the U.S.

A doctor not involved in the study told LiveScience, "Spinal cord injury may no longer mean a lifelong sentence of complete paralysis."

But a BBC medical correspondent points out this technique does not actually repair the spinal cord. The four patients involved in the study are still unable to walk without assistance.

More information is needed, but researchers now have the money to implant the stimulator into eight more patients.


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Pantino4 April 09 2014 at 8:18 AM

thank you, science and your inspiration.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
vwesson April 09 2014 at 11:16 AM

Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray ! Hooray !

HOO RAY ! HOO RAY ! HOO RAY ! HOO RAY ! HOO RAY !
HOO RAY !

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rick52259 April 09 2014 at 10:02 AM

I have MS and it's taken the use of my legs. So the nerves are still intact, they just don't get a strong signal. Why can't this be used for us?

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1 reply
Nancy rick52259 April 09 2014 at 10:19 AM

Maybe they can>

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alfredschrader April 09 2014 at 10:00 AM

My training is in Electro Mechanical Technology. If applying a tiny electrical current to a spinal cord nerve will operate the muscles, I'm absolutely certain we can wire high-gain op amp sensors into the still working nerves, detect and amplify the signal, and use it to apply the tiny electrical currents to bridge the "gap". There is equipment in Silicon Valey for engineering and developing this. WE are talking a long learning curve here by the user though. Cost of the first ones will be astronomical.

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Dianne April 09 2014 at 9:56 AM

Well done ,lets hope it works eveyone.

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yukonangels April 09 2014 at 9:27 AM

you have given me hope for my grandson who is 36 and was an avid fisherman and duck hunter. He wasInjured in a stupid act of ignorance by a crane opperator that was moving a tree over house with out proper safety lines. The tree split in half and landed with all 15000 + #. this all happened so they could save money on the job. My heart breaks everyday because he is all but forgotten and spends his days sleeping and nights on the computer. There should be more support to help these kids, they are all but forgotten. This happened a little over a year ago and I see no future for him. Lack of community support does not help. Sorry for venting. Margie

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julie patton April 09 2014 at 9:23 AM

This is a proven fact that this procedure works...I was in car accident in 2012, I had a spinalcord stimulator put in my neck & back....February 2014.....Best thing that I did, from all the broken bones i had, this has helped me so much. I am thankful that I got my life back and now I can spend my future with my husband & kids,,,I want to thank the doctors for coming up with is that can help many people....

Julie Patton--email jewles0874@aol.com

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1 reply
D KIRKLAND julie patton April 09 2014 at 11:03 AM

julie where did you have the operation performed what hospital and city thanks for a reply

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jvmcfla@aim.com April 09 2014 at 11:10 AM

This is very uplifting news! My husband's very good friend from high school was in a car accident last Fall and he has been left paralyzed from his waist down! He is in his early forties! I hope and pray that one day every single person wheelchair bound will walk again! Now that would be a true miracle of science!

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Mary April 09 2014 at 8:53 AM

Oh, my! Praise God. I am so happy for these men!!

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rg69z April 09 2014 at 8:40 AM

Science does it again!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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