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Study: Electrical Spinal Stimulation Helps Patients Move Again

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A patient receives treatment for his paralysis. (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

A patient receives treatment for his paralysis. (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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BETHESDA, Md. (CBSDC) –- According to a new study, zapping the spine with electricity during physical training could help paralyzed patients move again.

Researchers used electrical stimulation on the spines of four people who had been paralyzed for more than two years. After the stimulation, all four people were able to have some movements; they were able to flex their toes, ankles, and knees.

Researchers say that if this is proven to be effective in more people then it could change the prognosis for people living with paralysis.

“Spinal cord injury may no longer mean a lifelong sentence of complete paralysis,” Dr. Roderick Pettigrew, a director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said. “To my personal knowledge, I think this is the first report of four such individuals that have gained such substantial improvement, more two years after injury,” Pettigrew told Live Science.

Researchers implanted a grid of electrodes on the patients’ spinal cord. Then each patient had physical training.

After training, all four were able to move their leg.

Researchers know that further testing is needed before this can become a treatment.

The study was funded by NIH.

The findings were published in the journal Brain.

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