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Scientists Have Develop A Revolutionary Stimulation Therapy For Stroke Patients

According to patients, new technology immediately improves their arm and hand mobility.

University of Pittsburgh

Using a fork, Heather Rendulic shows that spinal cord stimulation improves arm mobility after a stroke. – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

In Pittsburgh, researchers are developing a ground-breaking spinal cord stimulation therapy to help stroke victims regain mobility.

In a study published in Nature Medicine, authors report that patients immediately report increased arm and hand mobility due to the new technology.

As a means of activating healthy brain networks, thin metal electrodes resembling spaghetti are implanted around the neck. Stroke patients are now capable of fully opening and closing their fists raising their arms above their heads, and cutting steak with a knife and fork for the first time in years.

Through a series of tests tailored to each patient, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre demonstrate that stimulation enables patients to perform complex tasks, including moving hollow cans and opening locks. During clinical evaluations, the research team found that stimulating the cervical nerve roots significantly increased arm and hand strength range of motion, and functionality in stroke patients.

Researchers discovered, however, that stimulation appears to linger longer than initially believed. It was found that enhanced mobility was maintained even after removing the device, suggesting it may serve both as an assistive and a restorative technique.

The team believes that the immediate effects of the stimulation will allow for intense physical training, which may lead to even greater gains in the long run.

We have developed a practical, easy-to-use stimulation protocol that adapts existing FDA-approved clinical technology that could be easily translated to the hospital and quickly moved from the lab to the clinic as a result of years of preclinical research,” said co-senior author Marco Capogrosso, Ph.D. an assistant professor of neurological surgery at Pitt.

Is There A Cure For ‘Permanent’ Paralysis?

Over the course of their lives, one in four people over 25 will suffer a stroke, and 75% of those people will lose their arms and hands permanently. Currently, there are no viable treatments for the “chronic” period, which begins about six months after the stroke.

There is some hope in the new technology for people who live with disabilities that many doctors consider permanent.

The need for effective neurorehabilitation solutions for stroke victims with movement impairments is becoming ever more urgent, said Elvira Pirondini, Ph.D. assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Motor impairments in the arm and hand, especially those resulting from stroke, can be very debilitating and interfere with simple daily activities, such as writing, eating, and dressing.

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