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New device is promising for spinal cord injury treatment

A Minnesota teenager who became paralyzed a few years ago during a high school hockey game is excited about a new study that was recently published, regarding an electrical device that has helped three paralyzed men make voluntary movements of their legs and lower extremities.  

The device, which was created to treat spine injuries, is implanted into the patient’s back and repeatedly zaps the spinal cord with electricity. To date, this experimental treatment has been successfully used on four patients, each with similar success. In all four patients, when the device was activated, it allowed them to make movements such as wiggling their toes, lifting their legs, and even standing briefly.  

The device is only a treatment, and certainly not a cure, but it has given all who have used it increased hope and a bit more independence. One of the paralyzed patients reported that using the device allows him to get out of his wheelchair periodically, and even ride an ATV all day with his friends. He also reported seeing improvements in bodily functions even when the device is turned off.  

Experts analyzing the results of the study have indicated that the use of electrical stimulators may eventually prove to be a more effective treatment for spinal cord injuries than the traditional treatments that are currently available, such as medicine or physical therapy.  

They say it is unrealistic to believe that people with paralysis will be able to walk after having such treatment, but it is realistic that within the next five to 10 years, we may have a new therapy that can actually significantly improve the quality of life for those with spinal cord injuries. Now, the National Institutes of Health is investing in researchingmore advanced stimulators.  

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury it may be in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney to help you weigh your options and understand your rights. While advancements such as these are promising, the seriousness of these types of injuries cannot be understated.

Source: 5 KSTP “Electrical device helps paralyzed men move legs, local teen reacts,” Cassie Hart, April 8, 2014

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