Three paraplegic patients are able to walk, cycle and even swim due to a device that stimulates the nerves affected by the injury. Researchers at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland, published the results of the research this Monday (7), in the renowned journal Nature Medicine.
The device consists of 15 electrodes, which are implanted by neurosurgeons in different parts of the spinal cord. Grégoire Courtine, one of the authors of the research, says that the device is the result of 10 years of study. The electrode array is positioned to activate the entire region involving trunk and leg control. To watch the video, access the G1 portal via twitter below.
THE control of the electrodes is carried out through a tablet. The three research participants are able to activate and control the device to use them for a few hours. The only limitation is that the device cannot be used all the time, as it consumes a lot of energy from users. However, the limitation does not worry the participants. For them, recovering a little of their daily movements is already a great achievement.
I use it every day, for a few hours. At work, at home, for many things – Michel Roccati, study participant
Greater precision and more quality in movements
The big difference in the research is that the electrodes were positioned more precisely. In other studies, they are primarily located in the central region to activate the back of the spinal cord, now the device is connected to the side of the cordseeking the exit of the nerves through the spinal cord.
In this way, we are able to be very specific in the different regions of the spinal cord that we activate. That’s what brings specificity to stimulation – Courtine said
Researcher Joceline Boch, author of the research, comments that in addition to the position, the electrodes are larger, allowing access to a greater number of muscle groups. Another important factor is that the control software, uses AI to coordinate with greater quality and efficiency the intensity of the electrical impulses that are generated. In this way, while the user is walking, the software is able to regulate the intensity and facilitate the muscle recruitment process, which changes constantly during the walking process.
The researchers are excited about the survey results. In the coming years, Jocelyn Bloch and Grégoire Courtine expect expand the study and start a trial involving 70 to 100 patientsmainly in the United States.
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