In new research that provides hope to countless people suffering from paralysis, scientists have found a way to kick-start neurons in the spine.
Scientists have found a noninvasive way to stimulate neurons in the spinal cord in people who have paralysis, a huge development that helped five men move their legs recently.
It was the first time paralyzed patients had seen such success without surgery, although it still remains a question over whether paralyzed patients could be retaught to carry their own weight, according to a UPI report.
But it was extraordinarily successful with five men who were able to move their legs for the first time since suffering the injury, providing tremendous hope to paraplegics of the world.
The study was led by V. Reggie Edgerton, who works at the University of California Los Angeles. He and his team used an implant the delivers electrical current to the lower portion of the spinal cord, which helped the paralyzed men to regain their ability to move their legs. A year earlier, involuntary stepping movements were induced for the first time in uninjured men, also using a noninvasive simulation with electrodes attached to the spine and legs, indicating that scientists may be getting closer to a cure.
It was the initial test that led to researchers trying it out in five paralyzed men ranging in ages from 19 to middle age, all of whom were paralyzed but for different reasons, such as car accidents or athletic injuries. Each had been injured for at least two years.
They received training session for 18 weeks as well as a dose of anxiety drug buspirone, which actually appeared to enhance the effects of the simulations. They saw consistent improvement in voluntary movements, including the contraction of muscles. Their findings were published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
Edgerton himself was surprised, not expecting that stimulation of the neural connections alone would be enough to restore movement, but he was pleased to see they regained voluntary control quite quickly. This means that perhaps the neural connections in the spine don’t die, they just need to be reawakened.