Spinal Cord Implant To Help Paralyzed People Regain Movement

e-Dura Spinal Cord Implant for SCI Patients

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is dangerous, and it can make people’s life miserable. Such injuries make victims paralyzed. Paralysis is a big nightmare because people lose their movement. The spinal cord is in the backbone of our bodies. It is one of the most delicate parts and also very critical. Its main function is to transfer all electrical signals and certain chemicals to our other body parts and back to the brain. Some accidents causing injury to the spinal cord may cause paralysis. To help such people, scientists have developed a new spinal cord implant. This implant helps patients to regain their ability to move and walk again.

The treatment of SCI is complex and sensitive in the case of a mishappening or injury. We can take the spinal cord as the main bus bar that runs our body’s whole electrical system. We can understand the human body with simple analogies. Nerves are wirings, and blood vessels are plumbing. So we have to understand that the spinal cord is critical. To help patients with SCI, scientists are doing some research. The French scientists of EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and NCCR Robotics have developed a new implant named e-Dura. The Dura matter is actually the name of the protective layer of our spinal cord. As this one is electronic, thus the name e-Dura.

Experiments were conducted on rats with spinal injury at first. After using this implant, the rats were able to move within a few weeks of therapy. This was a huge success because past experiments showed rejections. This new implant can carry electrical impulses and even drugs. According to scientists, the material is very flexible and can last for 10 years. Most importantly, there are no reported rejections and negative reactions until now.

e-Dura Implant for Traetment

This is a next-generation neural implant. e-Dura is made up of Silicon with gold tracks for electrical conduction between platinum and silicon electrodes. The silicon and gold give the device great elasticity and flexibility. There is another channel for drug and chemical flow as well. This implant is directly placed over the spinal cord of the patient. Human trials are now in the process. The experiments showed positive results in rats with SCI. Therefore the researchers have high hopes for the human trial. Scientists also assume that it can help with other diseases like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

There have been quite a lot of experiments till now. Older experiments and products have shown negative results. Those negative results include inflammation and damage due to friction and less flexibility. According to scientists, the e-Dura implant is a new product that can work with our natural biological organs in harmony. This means there is very little chance of rejection. Developers hope to help paralyzed people able to move again. This can be a revolutionary thing and a life-changing implant for many people in pain.

This neural implant is one of the most advanced and elegant innovations. Paralysis is a severe problem, and e-Dura has shown hope to fix this. The prototypes will be out soon, and human trials will begin soon. Till today no other devices or implants passed the match test because they showed irritation with the spinal cord. Therefore most of them were rejected sooner or later. However, there are many experiments and research happening on this topic. So we are going to learn more about this see better implants.

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Epidural Stimulation

Simply speaking, Epidural Stimulation is a form of treatment or rehabilitation for SCI patients. In this, electrical signals are bypassed and sent to the lower spinal cord. Bypassing is done because of problems in the spinal cord. The conductive stimulating electrode is placed in the dura. Signals stimulate the cord, and the patients can perform the required activity. Patients do need a lot of regular training and practice after the installation of the chip. However, the patient can gain mobility easily after the training of a few weeks.

The brain sends signals over the damaged cord as well. And the stimulator helps to improve and transfer the signal. The human body is both complex and marvelous. Doctors fine-tune the implanted chip and stimulator for better results. Practice, therapy, and fine-tuning are very necessary for cases involving epidural stimulation. This is still a relatively new experiment and quite expensive treatment. So we have to wait and see the results.

Many people lose lower body movement, limb movement after disease, and accidents. There are many sad cases of athletes, mountaineers, cyclists, and stuntmen. Those people have a very hard time. Device and high-tech development like these can help them roam again and eventually live their life to the fullest. Medical science is still finding a cure and better treatment for SCI. The ongoing and upcoming research might even bring better treatments in the future.


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About the Author: Abhishek Chand

Structural Engineer by profession. Computer and smartphone enthusiast. Tech-savvy blogger and former Gadget reviewer of AP1 HD TV and TechnoNepal.

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