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Kent Stephenson bends his leg, thanks to an implanted epidural stimulator

In 2011, 25 year-old paraplegic Rob Summers was able to temporarily regain limited use of his legs, thanks to an experimental technique known as epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. Now, in a new study, Summers and three other paraplegic test subjects have shown even more promising results, thanks to the technology.  Read More

The Mindwalker project has received a grant of EUR 2.75 million (roughly US$3.5 million) a...

Each year, thousands of people worldwide experience full or partial paralysis as a result of spinal cord injury. Though there’s currently no medical cure for such injuries, new EU-funded research poses the potential to give patients the ability to walk again, with the aid of a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton dubbed “Mindwalker.”  Read More

The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) system comprises a vibrating glove that connects wirelessly t...

Researchers at Georgia Tech have seen an improvement in sensation and movement in the hands of people with paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI) after wearing a glove that helps them learn to play piano. The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) is a glove that helps them learn to play different songs by vibrating the wearer’s fingers to tell them which keys on a piano keyboard to play. The fact the improved sensation and motor skills occurred in individuals that had sustained their injury more than a year before the study is encouraging as most rehab patients see little improvement after such a period.  Read More

A prototype of the BYU artificial spine disc replacement

The soft, collagen-rich shock absorbers in our backs, known as intervertebral discs, both add to our height (a full quarter of the spinal column's total length) and cushion our vertebrae from contacting one another. Unfortunately, aging, accidents and overuse can damage them and lead to the costly phenomenon of chronic back pain – roughly US$100 billion is spent annually on treatment in the U.S. alone. Replacement of damaged discs, rather than spinal fusion, is an option that's growing in popularity, especially because it helps maintain mobility in the spine. Now, a team from Brigham Young University (BYU) has unveiled their new artificial disc, a compliant mechanism that they believe has the potential to restore quality of life to millions of those with injured spines.  Read More

Surgeons have restored some hand function to a quadriplegic patient by rerouting nerves in...

It's been a good news week for those suffering debilitating spinal injuries. First we looked at a breakthrough that enables quadriplegic patients to move robotic arms using just their thoughts and now, in related news, surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine have reported the successful rerouting of working nerves in the upper arms of a quadriplegic patient, restoring some hand function.  Read More

The curved spine of a child with scoliosis

Scoliosis is a lateral deformity of the spine, that most often shows up in young children and adolescents. Besides resulting in disfigurement, in some cases it can also cause breathing problems. In severe cases, if the child is still growing, telescoping steel rods are surgically implanted alongside the deformed section of the spine, in order to straighten it. Unfortunately, repeat surgeries are necessary every six months, in order to lengthen the rods as the child grows. Now, however, scientists from the University of Hong Kong are reporting success in the first human trials of a system that incorporates rods which can be lengthened using magnets instead of surgery.  Read More

A team of engineering students are designing a new type of cervical collar, that reportedl...

When a person injures the region of their spine immediately below their skull, emergency medical technicians apply what is known as a cervical collar. The devices first saw use in the Vietnam War, where medics needed a quick and simple system that could be used to immobilize the heads and necks of injured soldiers. In the years since, however, some studies have suggested that by pushing the head up and away from the body, the collars may cause the vertebrae to separate – actually making some spinal injuries worse. Fortunately, a team of six undergraduate engineering students from Houston’s Rice University are now developing a new type of cervical collar, that keeps the head still in a safer fashion.  Read More

Researchers have created a biologically based spinal implant they say could someday provid...

Researchers have created a biologically based spinal implant they say could someday provide relief for the millions of people suffering lower back and neck pain. Instead of removing damaged spinal discs – a surgery known as a discectomy – and fusing the vertebrate bones to stabilize the spine in patients diagnosed with severe degenerative disc disease, or herniated discs, the artificial discs could be used to replace damaged discs, performing better than current implants that are made from a combination of metal and plastic.  Read More

Rob Summers, 25, in the harness that provides support while he receives electrical stimula...

In a move that gives cautious hope to the millions of people suffering some form of paralysis, a team of researchers from UCLA, Caltech and the University of Louisville has given a man rendered paralyzed from the chest down after a hit-and-run accident in 2006 the ability to stand and take his first tentative steps in four years. The team used a stimulating electrode array implanted into the man’s body to provide continual direct electrical stimulation to the lower part of the spinal cord that controls movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes, to mimic the signals the brain usually sends to initiate movement.  Read More

The active electrode book - the four slots close in around the nerve roots like the pages ...

Paraplegics may soon find it easier to exercise their leg muscles through activities such as cycling and rowing thanks to a tiny microchip implanted in the spinal canal. Dubbed the Active Book because of its booklike appearance, the microchip combines electrodes and a muscle stimulator in one unit the size of a child's fingernail.  Read More

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