UCLA Study: Paralyzed People Regain Use of Their Hands with Non-Invasive Spinal Stimulation

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Ability to Perform Simple Tasks is Returned Years After Spinal Cord Injury

Simple tasks like turning a doorknob or opening a water bottle can make a significant difference in peoples lives following a spinal cord injury. A team of scientists led by UCLA, has published a report in the Journal of Neurotrauma concerning six individuals with severe spinal cord injuries. All six have regained the use of their hands and fingers after years of disability following a nonsurgical, noninvasive spinal stimulation developed by the research team. Three of the subjects were completely paralyzed prior to undergoing the procedure.

At the commencement of the study, three of the participants were unable to move their fingers at all, and none could turn a doorknob or open a twist top plastic water bottle. They all struggled at varying degrees with cell phone use and using a fork. Substantial improvements were apparent in all six individuals after only eight sessions led by the trainer/researchers. The participants had chronic and severe paralysis ranging from one year to as long as 13 years.

The research subjects, in addition to regaining the use of their fingers, gained other health benefits. Improvements were noted in blood pressure levels, bladder function, cardiovascular function and the ability to sit upright without support.

“Within two or three sessions, everyone started showing significant improvements, and kept improving from there,” said UCLA research scientist Parag Gad, the studies lead author.

“After just eight sessions, they could do things they haven’t been able to do for years,” said V. Reggie Edgerton, senior author of the research and a UCLA distinguished professor of integrative biology and physiology, neurology and neurosurgery.

Edgerton continued by stating that this is the largest recovery of the use of the hands that has been reported in patients with such severe spinal cord injuries.

The Spinal Cord Research Method

A method referred to as “transcutaneous enabling motor control,” or tEmc, is employed by placing electrodes on the skin to stimulate the circuitry of the spinal cord. Electrical current is applied at varying frequencies and intensities to specific locations on the spinal cord.

The participants were given a small gripping device that was squeezed 18 times in each hand, holding their grip for eight seconds while the force of their grip was measured. The eight 90-minute sessions were conducted twice weekly over four weeks.

“About midway through the sessions, I could open my bedroom door with my left hand for the first time since my injury and could open new water bottles, when previously someone else had to open them for me,” said Cecelia Villarruell, a participant whose injury happened 13 years earlier as the result of a car accident.

“Most people with a spinal cord injury say they just want to go to the bathroom like a normal person,” she said. “Small accomplishments like opening jars, bottles and doors enable a level of independence and self-reliance that is quite satisfying, and have a profound effect on peoples lives.”

Over 1.2 million Americans are living with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries according to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. The loss of body functions including use of hands and fingers affects hundreds of thousands of Americans due to these injuries.

“Improved hand function can mean the difference between needing around-the-clock care and living more independently,” said Peter Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Reeve Foundation. “These findings bring great hope to those who were told recovery following paralysis would be impossible. As new discoveries and breakthroughs are uncovered, it is clear the word ‘impossible’ no longer applies to spinal injury.”

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The Lifetime Cost of a Spinal Cord Injury

The financial hardship that results from a severe spinal cord injury is enormous. The cost over a lifetime can easily exceed $1 million in medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation, special needs and more. Very often a spinal cord injury is caused by the negligence or malice of another. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, you need a qualified spinal cord injury lawyer to help you recover the damages to which you are entitled, to provide a life free from financial hardship. The physical hardship is already more than anyone should bear.

If you or a loved one were injured, call Vititoe Law Group today and speak with an experienced spinal injury lawyer with no out of pocket cost to you. We are here to help you recover what you truly deserve. Call 818-851-1886 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your case. No Recovery – No Fee

By | 2018-05-24T11:46:22+00:00 May 2nd, 2018|Spinal Cord Injury|0 Comments

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