April 4, 2014
One of the most catastrophic injuries that bicyclists may be at risk of in an accident is a spinal cord injury. There is no complete cure for these injuries, which is why prevention is key. Scientists recently announced yet more success in experiments in which they used electrical signals to get men with paralyzed lower limbs, to move their legs.
Three years ago, the same group of researchers had reported using electrical devices that they used to stimulate the spinal cord in a paralyzed man, encouraging him to actually move his legs and even stand up. The same results have now been replicated in at least three other patients.
The results of the study were published recently in the British journal Brain. The researchers provide an update of the earliest patient who tried the treatment. According to the team, they have now been able to see similar successful results in at least three other men, who also tried the shock treatment.
In all the cases, the men suffered from paralysis after suffering a spinal cord injury. The paralysis left them completely unable to move from below their neck or chest for a period of at least two years.
According to the researchers, an electrical device was used to zap the injured spinal cord, and those electrical impulses encouraged the spinal cord to receive commands from the brain. The three men who had success using the device have reported that they are now able to move their legs. They can get out of the wheelchair for some amount of time, and can use an off-road utility vehicle. These were not activities that they were able to perform earlier.
However, these men still use a wheelchair to get about most of the time. In spite of this, the researchers are fairly optimistic about the manner in which this electrical device can be used in the future to provide spinal cord injury victims greater movement.