Electrical stimulation! The news is everywhere. I have been keeping track of the developments of electrical stimulation implants in humans for some time now. Some of these studies have occurred in the United States over the last couple of years. The technology and science behind it isn’t new – but the papers have just been published so there is a lot of buzz.
I want to mention, this isn’t a CURE. This is very exciting, and those in the US study did see some improvement. However, they also participated in intense activity-based therapy, and also most of the movement they saw would happen only when the electrical stimulation was turned on.
There is another study I am much more excited about, and that is the one they carried out in Switzerland. They used similar principles – electrical stimulation and therapy – but instead of a constant turned “on” stimulation they did precise targeted stimulation as the patient was gait training. In the end, the three individuals in this trail, were able to walk WITHOUT the stimulation. What is more exciting is that these injuries were chronic.
What I have noticed, regardless of what type of research is happening in spinal cord injury, be it; stem-cells, surgery, medication or stimulation, they all require intense activity-based therapy to work.
We are many many years away from fully understanding how the spinal cord works, but I feel like finally we are seeing some positive results.