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.
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.
Dr. Nikolaus Wenger
Klinik und Hochschulambulanz für Neurologie
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel: +49 30 450 660 206
Manuela Zingl | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences