If you have a spinal cord injury in 2019, there is a reason to be excited: new research shows that epidural stimulation can significantly help people with spinal cord injuries regain movement and sensation. Accidentally discovered to have the ability to treat spinal cord injuries by Dr. Susan Harkema at the University of Louisville Kentucky, epidural stimulation has helped dozens of people with spinal cord injuries across the country stand and take steps, as well as experience a return of important autonomic functions such as bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and temperature regulation.
How Does It Work?
Epidural stimulation involves the application of a continuous electrical current to the lower part of the spinal cord. When taking part in epidural stimulation, the person with paralysis has a chip implanted into their dura (the protective coating of the spinal cord) and a remote is utilized to communicate with the chip, which then controls the frequency and intensity of the electrical current. When the stimulator is turned on, people with paralysis can notice results like increased movement; however, many are reporting that their epidural stimulation results are long-lasting, even when the stimulator is turned off.
The first person with a spinal cord injury to undergo epidural stimulation was Rob Summersin 2009. Rob, a former professional baseball player, can now stand and coach baseball even with the stimulator turned off. Researchers were shocked by his immense progress since the stimulation, and they have continued to be shocked by similar cases across the country over the past ten years.
Where is it Available?
Epidural stimulation has been so successful that facilities across the country have taken on the research as well, including the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2018, the first case of independent walking induced by epidural stimulation was reported by this Mayo Clinic in a 29-year old paraplegic. The subject used a walker to walk across a pathway independently when the stimulator was activated.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is currently utilizing 36 subjects with spinal cord injuries in an epidural simulation trial called The Big Idea. This Foundation is trying to recreate Dr. Harkema’s original results based on her first four subjects. To learn more about The Big Idea, visit https://www.reevebigidea.org.
Researchers at UCLA are also partaking in epidural stimulation trials. Researchers from universities across the country are increasingly taking part in epidural stimulation research. If you would like to participate in epidural stimulate, consider asking the university nearest you to look into starting epidural stimulation research.
– Watch: The Big Idea: Epidural Stimulation Research for SCI https://spinalpedia.com/video/obW1qBa6yqd
– Watch: Epidural Stimulation Research for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery https://spinalpedia.com/video/KmrDMnZm12Xb