Helping the paralyzed move – Healthcare Economist





The technology is amazing. Of The Economist:

Fourteen years ago, Melanie Reid, a journalist, fell from a horse and broke her neck. Her spinal cord injury left her paralyzed, limiting the function of her four limbs and her torso, a condition known as tetraplegia. For more than a decade, her left hand was unable to feel or move. Now, however, Mrs. Reid can not only move that hand; she can also, as she says, practice the “right to put my hair in a ponytail.”
Mrs. Reid’s remarkable (although incomplete) recovery did not require surgery or medication, but rather exercise and electricity. She was one of 60 patients at trial sites in three countries who received a new form of non-invasive spinal cord stimulation, known as arcEX…

How does the technology work?

The researchers placed two stimulating electrodes on the back of the patient’s neck (above and below the injury site) and two electrodes next to the collarbone or hip to close the circuit. A current was then applied at a frequency of 30 Hz, which patients reported hearing as an internal hum. They then continued their existing exercise regimen and completed tasks to improve movement and grip strength.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-024-02940-9

What was the results? An article in Nature medicine by Moritz et al. (2024) reports that:

Seventy-two percent of participants demonstrated improvements greater than minimally important difference criteria for both strength and functional domains. Secondary endpoint analysis revealed significant improvements in fingertip pinch strength, hand grip and strength, upper extremity sensory and motor abilities, and self-reported increases in quality of life.

For more information, read the Economist article or the scientific article in Nature medicine.



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