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Restorative Medicine
Noninvasive Spinal Stimulation Works to Restore Movement After Spinal Cord Injury
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Noninvasive Spinal Stimulation Works to Restore Movement After Spinal Cord Injury
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For someone who is paralyzed, regaining the ability to control a full weight-bearing standing posture without assistance is a key goal. Not only does standing and maintaining balance provide a greater level of physical independence and mobility, it also is the foundation for regaining the ability to walk, including stepping with assistance from robotic devices.
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Dimitry Sayenko, MD, PhD
Spearheading the efforts to help patients recover loss of movement after a spinal cord injury is Dimitry Sayenko, MD, PhD, assistant professor in Houston Methodist’s Department of Neurosurgery. In previous clinical studies, Sayenko and his team found that spinal cord stimulation can help regain certain motor functions in people with paralysis due to spinal cord injury.
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Building on this work, the team recently published several studies, including two in the Journal of Clinical Medicine and one in Neuroimage: Reports, that examine how noninvasive spinal stimulation modulates the brain connections with the spinal cord. The insights gleaned from their studies, they posited, could be important considerations needed to optimize and predict the benefits of future spinal cord stimulation interventions.
The spinal cord includes neuronal networks that receive and relay information from the upper and lower limbs and body and communicate with the brain. These spinal networks influence movement and sensory processing, among other functions. The team found that the motor commands coming from both the brain and from external stimulation likely increase the activity of the spinal interneurons that then help regain movement after spinal cord injury.
Sayenko is also collaborating with industry partner ANEUVO (formerly called Niche Biomedical), Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab on a project to evaluate the effects of transcutaneous spinal stimulation on regaining upper limb function in individuals with tetraplegia due to spinal cord injury. This pilot clinical trial is finished, and the collaborative team is preparing to launch the FDA-regulated pivotal clinical trial.
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