A man paralyzed from the waist down was able to voluntarily control and move his legs with the help of an electrical implant in his spine.
- Thanks to a groundbreaking surgery, a paralyzed man regained the ability to briefly walk for a short period of time.
- An electrode implanted into the epidural space of the spinal cord gave the patient limited function of his lower extremities.
- It's thought that the mechanism behind this could be reopening a line of communication between the nerves to the brain.
Mind control or just the spinal cord connection renewed?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY2MzY4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NDAwNDQxOX0.bcBFlGgI_cLmRrQ6T1ZCXWr0NLAVOpkNU64B7GI9ytg/img.jpg?width=980" id="53406" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b19bd9923a6c476ffa620b5b96193b8c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mayo Clinic Images<p>The electrode implant was surgically inserted into the outermost part of the spinal canal and, in this case, right underneath the injured area. It connects to a pulse generator device which was installed below the skin of Chinnock's abdomen. The battery in the abdomen was connected by a wire to the electrode, which was also laid underneath his skin. The two pieces communicate wirelessly with an outside controller. </p><p>This new electrode mechanism working successfully is a big deal, because there's no need for a physically intrusive brain surgery in order to change the function of the limbs. In a sense it's all happening through thoughts alone.</p><p>Dr. Lee stated that, "The reason why this is important is because the patient's own mind, thought, was able to drive movement in his legs. Just as important is that we were able to get him to stand independently and take his own steps."</p><p>Although he was able to walk at length during these sessions, there were some caveats to the experiment. Once the remote controlled electrode was turned off, he'd become paralyzed again. He also did not have renewed sensation in his legs. </p><p>"It's very exciting, but still very early in the research stage," said Lee.</p>
First step towards cyborg medical advancements?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="960289fd5b1d6dfb5d64cc2cc9c71f53"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MQ6ggOdQz2k?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This innovative surgery was published in <a href="https://sci-hub.tw/10.1038/s41591-018-0175-7" target="_blank">a recent issue of <em>Nature Medicine</em></a><em>. </em>This could be just the beginning for utilizing this new electrode mechanism inside the body. Doctors are ecstatic about this medical breakthrough, but there's still a lot that they don't understand about how an electrical stimulation was able take a severed spinal cord and restore movement.</p><p>"Now I think the real challenge starts, and that's understanding how this happened, why it happened, and which patients will respond," said Dr. Kristin Zhao, a co-principal investigator. </p><p>In the closing notes of the paper, the authors confidently state: </p><blockquote>We have demonstrated that human spinal networks can be transformed years after SCI to reach physiologic states that generate coordinated and robust spinal motor outputs to generate independent stepping and standing.</blockquote><p>These results support the concept that these types of rehabilitation efforts can be used in the future to help brave paralyzed people, such as Chinnock, regain their ability to walk and function again.</p><p><br></p>
Fight or flight? We've all been there. Now we have an understanding of how it works.
- There is such a thing in neuroscience as a 'gut feeling.'
- We don't quite know what it's saying yet, but we have an idea.
- "Gut signals are transmitted at epithelial-neural synapses through the release of … serotonin."