The Dompost ran an extraordinary article in Saturday’s paper (Saturday 21 may 2011) “Paralysed man takes first faltering steps”
The case was originally published in “the Lancet”, a reputable medical journal.
The man had a spinal cord injury at chest level and had become paralyzed five years ago. It appears from the article that electrodes were implanted in his spine and using electrical stimulation he was able to walk, and had improved bladder and sexual function.
The reason I find this so amazing is that with electrodes attached externally to my lower leg I am able to walk, still with crutches, with a normal gait and proper alignment meaning less effort, less damage to joints and lower spine, and without the need for a dictus (ankle brace). See my earlier blog “Bionic Woman” This article suggests to me that the way forward in treating the symptoms of a spinal cord injury is through electrical stimulation, and if that this can ultimately and viably be achieved through electrode implants.
Stem cell research seems to have hit a brick wall. Reported results from China seem to be over inflated, with many subjects actually regressing after about three months because the implanted stem cells are reabsorbed. A lot of stem cell work is being done in Germany, but mostly also with disappointing results and even deaths from what is, after all, quite high risk surgery.
Electrode implants really are an exciting development.