Home Uncategorized Spinal implant enables Paralyzed people to walk again

Spinal implant enables Paralyzed people to walk again

About 3 years back, the EPFL team of scientists achieved a breakthrough
of managing to get rats that had severed spinal cords to walk again. The
method involved suspending the rats in a specific harness and using
implants to enable electrical stimulation of neurons in the lower spinal
cord. This allowed the team to enable rats with paralyzed hind legs to
be able to run on the very same pair of legs. 

However, the technology
was not practical for humans because the implants were stiff and would
be eventually rejected by the body. This issue has been solved by the
recent research at EPFL.
The previous study used a method that started off with the injection of
chemicals that would replace the neurotransmitters, which were unable to
reach the hind legs of rats. The electrical simulation was applied
below the area from where spinal cord had been cut by making use of
electrodes (implanted on the exterior layer of the spinal canal in that
area), which resulted in causing movement in the hind legs
After undergoing some training period, the rats were able
to activate these electrical impulses through brain only, enabling them
to run and walk on their own accord. Over time, the rats were able to
form fresh connection between the brain and lower spine, thus bypassing
the cut in the spinal cord.

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The recent study saw the creation of a new and improved implant known as
e-Dura that has been designed so that it can be implanted on the cortex
below the dura mater – the protecting envelope that covers the nervous
system. The implant has been made of a silicone substrate covered in
gold-conducting tracks that carry electrodes created from a
platinum/silicone micro-bed composite. 
The electrodes in question are
capable of delivering current while being able to detect electrical
impulses. Moreover, a particular microfluidic channel is included in the
substrate that allows for the chemicals to be delivered – the same
chemicals that had to be injected in the original study.

This assembly is capable of remaining functional while also
exhibiting flexibility to let the implant stretch and deform along with
dura mater instead of causing inhibitions to its movement. These
implants in rats have caused no issues even after being used for a time
span of 2 months. Whereas, as per EPFL, the conventional implants ‘would
have caused significant nerve tissue damage’ in this time period.
e-Dura is being prepared for commercialization while the team is
looking forward to human trials soon! A great hope for paralyzed people,
isn’t it?