University of Minnesota researchers make possible breakthrough in paralysis treatment

They've been able to restore some function in patients with devastating spinal cord injuries.
Author:
Publish date:

The University of Minnesota's Medical School says it has made a breakthrough in restoring some bodily functions in people who have been dealing with severe paralysis for years.

Previously, it's been possible to restore some level of function in young and healthy patients who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury within a few years of it happening.

But as part of the E-STAND clinical trial, Dr. David Darrow, a neurosurgery resident at the medical school and Hennepin Healthcare, broadened the scope of patients who can qualify for epidural spinal cord stimulation (ESCS).

Darrow and his team were able to restore some automatic movements and voluntary functions without any significant rehabilitation.

They implanted the stimulators in two women aged 48 and 52 who had no lower bodily function at all, having suffered traumatic spinal injuries 5 and 10 years earlier, respectively, that left them with little residual spinal cord.

Through the treatment, both women showed signs of some of their bowel/bladder functions being restored, with one of them able to urinate voluntarily. One of the women was able to achieve orgasm for the first time since her injury, a sign that sexual function was recovering.

One of the women also saw improvement in cardiovascular function.

There was even some "voluntary extremity movement," namely the movement in their paralyzed legs.

What's more, out of the 7 patients operated on as part of the study, all but one of them has been able to move their legs, one of whom had been paralyzed for 17 years.

Subscribe: Sign up for our daily newsletters

"We believe that we are studying a population that is much closer to the general population of patients with spinal cord injury," said Dr. Darrow. "We have opened the doors to so many more patients with traumatic spinal cord injury."

"Enabling someone to move her legs ... after being paralyzed from spinal cord injury has been one of the greatest moments of my career," said Dr. Uzma Samadani, who is an associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the U of M Medical School, and a neurosurgeon with Hennepin Healthcare

The U of M notes that there are around 290,000 people living in the U.S. with a spinal cord injury.

Dr. Ann Parr, assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the U of M Medical School said that there is "still a lot of research to be done," but added that they are "excited for all this could mean for patients."

Next Up

smoke, hazy sky, wildfire smoke

Hazy conditions may lift temporarily, but smoke will keep coming for MN

Drifting smoke "will likely remain with us for a while," one group warned.

Pixabay - covid face mask bicycle bike

Number of MN counties with high, substantial COVID transmission hits 64

Nine days ago, 14 counties passed that threshold. We're now up to 64.

rowdi billboard

Six months on, devoted family not giving up search to find missing Rowdi

Rowdi went missing on the North Shore in February, but Cory Carlson has hope Rowdi is still alive.

Pixabay - hospital emergency room sign

Woman suffers fractured neck, leg after driver blows through stop sign

The crash happened early Thursday about 20 miles outside of Detroit Lakes.

suni lee

Watch: Suni Lee reunites with family after winning 3 Olympic medals

Suni said she wouldn't be where he is today without her family.

Julie blaha and melisa franzen

Blaha, Franzen reveal extent of injuries suffered in crash

The state auditor and state senator were driving home from FarmFest.

covid vaccine card

More than 11K Minnesotans signed up for $100 COVID incentive on Day 1

The new vaccination rewards program opened on Wednesday, and it has proven quite popular among the newly vaccinated.

jeremy jones richardson - pine county

Charges: Man broke into friend's home, killed him with his cane

Pieces of the victim's cane were found on his back, charges say.

Awwal Adebayo Ladipo Go Fund Me hospital

Charges: Fatal punch after fight led to fractured skull, brain bleed

The victim, a 25-year-old St. Cloud State grad, died two days later.

Pixabay - school - classroom

Minneapolis Public Schools to require face masks for staff, students

The rule goes into effect Monday, and will continue at the start of the new school year.

Related

coronavirus, covid-19

U of M becomes among first to trial new COVID-19 treatment

They're treating a patient with lung failure using a new FDA-approved technique.

Researchers at the U of M reversed Alzheimer's in mice

The study is a major breakthrough in research of the disease, and may lead to new treatments.

New U of M study points to 'curative strategies' for HIV

The research could be a game-changer for HIV treatments.

Minnesota study finds marijuana helps patients during cancer treatment

A study examined the experience of more than 1,000 patients.

U of M researchers identify link between e-cigarettes and cancer

E-cigs contain trace elements of a chemical that can establish in the body after inhalation.