A new study involving an electric simulator in the spine is working toward the ultimate goal of getting paralyzed people up and out of wheelchairs.
“We live in a time when the words ‘impossible’ and ‘unsolvable’ are no longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary,” Actor and Activist Christopher Reeve said. He could be right.
Researchers with the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center confirmed the medical breakthrough for paralyzed patients who are now able to stand.
According to outstanding results published in the journal PLOS ONE, four men have been reported to be able to get back on their feet from their wheelchairs on their own. All of them have been paralyzed from the waist down.
Electrical simulators stimulate nervous system
The electrical stimulators inserted in the spines of the patients, directly affected their nervous system permitting them to stand with enough exercise, raising hopes that they may even begin to walk again in the future.
“I can stand up for more than half an hour,” Dustin Shillcox, a test subject who was paralyzed in a car accident five years ago, told CNN. “It’s awesome. It’s amazing. It’s a hopeful feeling.”
Sex, increased bladder and bowel control
Shillcox, who’s started a foundation to raise funds and give hope to others affected by paralysis, said that after two years of practices with the stimulator, he doesn’t need help from anyone getting or staying up. He still has to hand on something to keep his balance but he’s confident that he’ll keep making gains.
For the first time in years, the patients treated by Doctor Susie Harkema, significantly improved their mobility and overall health. All four men say the stimulator has allowed them to have sex again and has given them dramatically increased bladder and bowel control. They were able to move legs, perform a few sit-ups and saw their blood pressure improving. Certainly, their hard work and activity has much to do with it.
Patients are queuing to get the procedure
Over 4,000 people have signed up to become research subjects of the project made possible by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation which named the Kentucky research as its “Big Idea”. The foundation has kick-started a fundraising of $15 million to carry out the procedure in dozens more patients.
According to the campaign, 1 in 50 Americans are living with paralysis. Spinal cord injury goes far beyond immobility. Some may believe that not being able to walk is the worst part of paralysis, but secondary complications can dramatically affect health and quality of life.
To donate to the cause click here. Your money will go to life-changing epidural stimulation research for individuals living with spinal cord injury.
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