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drkgodess t1_j9bz6zw wrote

Shared access of Nature journal article in pdf: here

Key excerpts from Telegraph article:

> Scientists recruited Ms Rendulic, now 33, and one other stroke survivor, a 47-year-old woman, to be the first people to try out electrical stimulation of the spinal cord with the aim of improving arm and hand motor movements...

>Scientists created a device that inserts two electrodes into the spinal cord in between vertebrae in the neck area.

>The electrodes stayed in place for 29 days. When these were activated, the patients - the first ever to experience this technology - had 40 per cent more grip force and 40 per cent more speed in their injured hands...

> “We discovered that electrical stimulation of specific spinal cord regions enables patients to move their arm in ways that they are not able to do without the stimulation.”

> ...The researchers said the stimulation procedure, known as epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical spinal cord, does not require invasive surgery and appears to have no negative side effects.

That it worked after such a long time and it was minimally invasive seem to be the major breakthroughs in this case study.


m-s-c-s t1_j9ca82x wrote

One that jumped out at me:

“Importantly, the patient retains full control of their movements. The stimulation is assistive and strengthens muscle activation only when patients are trying to move.”

Doesn't this also carry major implications for prosthesis used by amputees?


kallistini t1_j9cp71v wrote

Yup. Being able to activate and control the residual muscles is super useful, especially for advanced prosthetics. A lot of people lose the ability because they have no other reason to use those neural pathways and muscles before they’re fitted for prosthetics, but also because there’s no (or limited) biofeedback. There’s some research into using VR to provide visual feedback to help people, but it requires a baseline level of control that some people simply don’t have without neural stimulation like this. The lack of feedback and control is also one of the proposed mechanisms of phantom limb pain


upsidedownbackwards t1_j9dk4ug wrote

Only vaguely in the same realm but I was lucky enough to be able to use VR while in the hospital for a month waiting for spine surgery and it was such a great break from life. My breathing and heartrate would be much better while using it and it would get me away from my real body that was covered in wires/tubes. It was the strongest my SO2 levels could get (I got pneumonia from not being able to walk for so long).

REALLY hope that VR becomes a thing for people in the hospital and with limited mobility.


kallistini t1_j9e8h62 wrote

I know a couple people that are doing it for stroke rehab with a mobile unit about the size of a shoe (plus VR headset and laptop). When I was involved in the field, we did visit a few spinal cord injury clinics, but we had a devil of a time getting usable EMG signals from the patients we worked with. Maybe it was just bad luck, but we couldn’t get any more funding for that project without promising preliminary data.

I’m also really excited for the tech to move forward. Everyone we worked with seemed to genuinely have fun and get lost in the game/training they were doing.


whichwitch9 t1_j9dizg6 wrote


I want to be mature about this but I can't help the part of me that's like "We're so close to automail"


gazow t1_j9czqe7 wrote

i mean only if you have a few million dollars lieing around


No-FreeLunch t1_j9d839f wrote

Turns out scientific breakthroughs ain’t cheap and cost effective alternatives take years to develop


cdrewing t1_j9cvnu0 wrote

As being a person who is suffering from multiple sclerosis I'd love to have this device on my weak leg.


skater15153 t1_j9edexs wrote

Was thinking the same thing for me father. I'm also curious if there's something in this same path for the muscle tone many suffer from. Like if you could use this to help the opposite muscle to overcome tone issues. My dad has his legs basically locked up without drugs and the drugs knock him out.


cdrewing t1_j9f7l2w wrote

Ever tried cannabis by prescription? Your dad can take it before going to bed and doesn't need to be stoned while awake.


skater15153 t1_j9flmr8 wrote

I don't think he's tried it. Does it help with muscle tone?


cdrewing t1_j9gjt33 wrote

Yep. My wife tells me since I take it on a daily basis before going to bed I have less twitches in my legs. And from my own experience I can tell you: your sleep will become much more restful and longer. At the weekends sleeping for ten hours per night won't be a challenge - on average.


firstbreathOOC t1_j9er1ub wrote

Most PT offices use a much smaller version of electric stim. I’ve done it often for my knees. Helps tremendously, even if it feels weird in the moment.


Leor_11 t1_j9ekeff wrote

There's a group in Lausanne (Switzerland) who did the same thing to help a man walk again after a partial spinal chord injury. I watched a presentation by the group PI in a congress and we were all speechless and emotional.


PepiHax t1_j9dc0kw wrote

Okay I guess the summary is fine, but it doesn't say why they are the first

Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord is old tech, it even resulted in the orgasm button.


drkgodess t1_j9dedql wrote

The technology has never been applied in this specific way.


PepiHax t1_j9dh4hc wrote

Okay, so how does it differ from this review from 2020 where they found 13 other articles about spinal cord stimulation?


drkgodess t1_j9dj0h8 wrote

Well, those studies were done with people who had spinal cord injuries, not strokes, and the electrodes were transcutaneous (i.e. outside of the body), not implanted in the spinal cord. This study likely built on those findings, though.


magenk t1_j9e6pd6 wrote

It may not be super cutting edge tech, but it's far from perfected. There are still lots of potential serious complications from this "minimally invasive" procedure.

While the risks may be worth it for many, I don't think minimizing the risks is very responsible. The nervous system is very complex and for all of our knowledge, we're still stabbing in the dark a lot of the time.