Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using 'Pacemakers' in spinal cord injuries

12.02.2016

Electrical stimulation helps restore movement patterns

Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and EPFL, Lausanne have succeeded in restoring motor function following spinal cord injury. The researchers were able to show that coordinated muscle movement is the result of alternating activation patterns emanating from the spinal cord.


Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord below the site of injury.

Copyright: European Project NEUwalk.

Newly-developed implants, which use electrical stimulation to mimic these signals, were used to target and reactivate specific segments of the spinal cord. Results from this study have been published in the current issue of the journal Nature Medicine.*

Paraplegia is the result of traumatic injury to the spinal cord. Communication between the brain and spinal cord is disrupted, which often leads to severe functional impairment and life-long paralysis. Research studies have shown that the spinal cord is capable of producing coordinated movements in response to electrical or chemical stimulation, even in the absence of signals from the brain.

“Our aim is to use electrical stimulation to restore spinal cord function below the site of injury. We are hoping to succeed in enhancing the body's own ability to produce voluntary movement by mimicking the natural spinal cord activity as closely as possible,” explains Dr. Nikolaus Wenger, who is involved in research at Charité's Department of Neurology and the Berlin Institute of Health.

Using an animal model, the team of European researchers was able to show that leg movements are associated with a wave-like activation of specific sections of the spinal cord. “In order to be able to reproduce this activity in paraplegic individuals, we developed permanent implants that are capable of selectively activating the spinal cord,” says Dr. Wenger.

Both strength and balance during locomotion can be improved by stimulating the spinal cord in the right place at the right time. The researchers' innovative implants and stimulation protocols allow the spinal cord to be activated based on continuous motion feedback.

Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord can also be used to generate movement in humans, which is why researchers are currently in the process of finding ways to translate these findings into clinical applications. This new method of stimulating the spinal cord may contribute to the development of improved treatments for patients with paraplegia. Following further developments, these new treatment approaches may also be adaptable for use in stroke research.

*N. Wenger, E. M. Moraud, J. Gandar, P. Musienko, M. Capogrosso, L. Baud, C. G Le Goff, Q. Barraud, N. Pavlova, N. Dominici, I. R. Minev, L. Asboth, A. Hirsch, S. Duis, J. Kreider, A. Mortera, O. Haverbeck, S. Kraus, F. Schmitz, J. DiGiovanna, R. van den Brand, J. Bloch, P. Detemple, S. P. Lacour, E. Bézard, S. Micera & G. Courtine. Spatiotemporal neuromodulation therapies engaging muscle synergies improve motor control after spinal cord injury. Nat Med. 2016 Feb;22(2):138-145. doi: 10.1038/nm.4025. Epub 2016 Jan 18.

Contact:
Dr. Nikolaus Wenger
Klinik und Hochschulambulanz für Neurologie
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel: +49 30 450 660 206
Email:nikolaus.wenger@charite.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.charite.de/en/
http://neurologie.charite.de/en/research/
http://www.schlaganfallcentrum.de/en/
https://www.bihealth.org/en/

Manuela Zingl | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht New imaging technique able to watch molecular dynamics of neurodegenerative diseases
14.07.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht Quick test finds signs of sepsis in a single drop of blood
03.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>