One of the goals of science and technology today is to help paralyzed people walk and move again. Though there is still a lot of research and study to be done, attempts and efforts towards reaching the goal have been made, and one such bold endeavor is the use of epidural spine stimulation.
Spinal cord injury or SCI is a condition where any part of the spinal cord or the nerves located at the end of the spinal canal are damaged or injured in which incomplete or complete change and momentary or permanent impairment occurs in the cord’s normal sensory, motor or autonomic performance and function. Spinal cord injury is usually attributed to trauma to the cord caused by car accident, severe falls, serious sports injuries, gunshot, etc. Diseases such as poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis, spina bifida or split spine, transverse myelitis, and Friedrich’s ataxia can also lead to the condition.
Severe injury to the spinal cord most often leads to paralysis. Paralysis is the loss of muscle function wherein one or more muscles can be affected. Mobility problems are often experienced by people, and most of the time many of them struggle with the physical limitation. Inability to move on their own and performing basic tasks and activities of daily living, loss of independence and freedom, reliance and total dependence to others are some of the things individuals with SCI face.
Because of the physical challenges individuals with the condition go through, medical experts, scientists and engineers utilize the availability of high technological equipment along with thorough research and careful, comprehensive study and analysis to help people move with more ease.
That is why today, efforts to overcoming paralysis and immobility have been made. And one of the processes technology offers to do this is the epidural spine stimulation.
Epidural spine stimulation is a high tech process of implanting a device, known as epidural spine stimulator, in the spinal cord sends electrical impulses or signals to the spine. The device will electrically stimulate the spinal cord, “reawakening” it and “reminding” it of its function and potential.
Scientists reported that the procedure has been very effective. Four paralyzed individuals in the pilot trial who have complete motor spinal cord injury, which means the nerve to their muscles are complete severed, were able to move little by little with the epidural spine stimulator.
Another evidence of the epidural spine stimulation’s effectiveness at restoring mobility is reported by scientists at the University of Louisville. In 2011, the experts of the procedure surgically implanted the device to a man who suffered paralysis from the chest down due to a car accident. The device activated his spinal cord through sending electrical signals. The patient was able to stand on his own and take small steps with assistance.
After the reports of how epidural spine stimulation effectively worked, three more paralyzed individuals underwent surgery for the implantation of the stimulator. These people have experienced immobility for nearly two years. After the device, the patients were able to move their toes and flex their ankles and knees again.
With epidural spine stimulation, people who have been paralyzed for years will be able to overcome immobility brought about by spinal cord injury. This technology has given hope to individuals who have been battling physical challenges and enduring struggles and hardship for a long time.