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Hope for Paralysis Patients

A revolutionary new cure for Paralysis

Radhika Jain

New ideas and experimentation have brought about a possible new cure for paralysis via electrical implants. Paralysis can be caused by crush injuries, strokes or other brain-related diseases and is life-altering - rendering the victim completely unable to move. Until now, paralysis has been irreversible, but electrical implants have brought about hope for some patients. This cure potentially works for patients with partially crushed spines that still have some nerve connections to the brain but, unfortunately, would not help those with completely severed spines. This is because the electrical implant stimulates the spinal cord and uses the existing connections to encourage the brain to form new pathways - allowing patients to have some function restored even when the implants are not on. By using electricity, the implant makes the existing nerves more volatile and triggerable, which allows the weak signal to travel easily.

electrical implants in the spine:

The cure is still in its early stages, with some patients being ineligible for this treatment as their spine is too far gone. Yet, it is developing quickly; the treatment usually involved the surgical implantation of the device and months of daily, rigorous physical therapy that eventually resulted in some restored function within a year. Grégoire Courtine, along with his team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, hastened this process. They did so by involving the usage of multiple implants that target different nerve bundles - each relating to a limb function - and the application of wireless sensors on each leg that communicate with the implants. These sensors tell the electrode to fire small amounts of electricity every time the patient proceeds to move their limb. Using this new and more advanced system, patients have shown to begin restoring some function within a few days (with the assist of a pulley). After a few months, they can walk with only the help of a walker.

The development and usage of these electrodes is only one of the many new treatments being worked on and bettered everyday. The field of neuroscience shows promise for the future and will soon have a cure for many more diseases and disabilities with the help of technology and the greatest minds we have to offer.

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