Experimental spinal cord implant helps Parkinson’s patient walk in new study

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This is very cool...



Marc Gauthier can now step into an elevator without his body stiffening and freezing in place. He can take a 3-mile lakeside stroll without stopping. He can stand up out of a chair with ease. For Gauthier, 63, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for almost three decades, these everyday activities were a challenge — until now.

“Walking in a store would be really difficult, impossible before, because of the freezing of gait that would often happen in those environments. And now, it just doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t have freezing anymore,” Gauthier, who lives near Bordeaux, France, said in a news briefing, speaking in French that was translated to English.

In a new study, Gauthier was surgically implanted with an experimental spinal cord neuroprosthesis to correct walking disorders in people with Parkinson’s disease. Step by step, he said, it has helped him get his stride back.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, details how the neuroprosthesis works by targeting specific areas of the spinal cord with electrical stimulation that are associated with walking.

“Addressing deficits of gait and balance in Parkinson’s disease is extremely challenging. These deficits can be very heterogenous. They can be variable across patients. They can affect walking but also symmetry, balance, posture,” Dr. Eduardo Moraud, an author of the study and researcher at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland said during the news briefing.

“The neuroprosthetic approach that we have developed here allows for the first time to target and address these problems individually in a highly specific manner for each patient,” Moraud said. “It operates in real time, and importantly, it is complementary to other existing therapies.”

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Remarkable step forward!
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Lnewqban said:
Remarkable step forward!
I see what you did there... :wink:
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berkeman said:
I see what you did there... :wink:
But seriously, it is impressive that the spinal cord is slowly coming out of that old idea of definitive damage for life.
Thank you for sharing this article; I had no idea.
  • #5
Agreed. I need to read more about this -- spinal cord repair after paralyzing injury has long been an interest of mine, but this almost sounds like a minimally-invasive stimulation/synchronization of some sort. Off for more reading...
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