News / Science & Technology

Spinal Implant Helps Paraplegics Regain Some Functions

Spinal Implant Helps Paraplegics Regain Some Functionsi
X
George Putic
April 11, 2014 8:02 PM
Severe spinal cord injuries usually lead to total loss of control of lower extremities, as well as bladder, bowel and sexual functions. But scientists at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, say an implanted electrical device is helping the patients regain at least some of that control. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic
Severe spinal cord injuries usually lead to total loss of control of lower extremities, as well as bladder, bowel and sexual functions. But scientists at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, say an implanted electrical device is helping the patients regain at least some of that control.

A dirt bike accident five years ago left Ken Stephenson paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors told him that he would never be able to stand up again.

“They said, based on what they've diagnosed and how I broke my back and everything, that I wouldn't be able to move my legs again or feel anything ever again,” said Stephenson.

Another blow to the young man was the loss of sexual function.

Now, however, thanks to a small device implanted in his back that electrically stimulates his spinal cord, Stephenson has regained some ability to enjoy activities he thought were left behind forever.

Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, of the National Institutes of Health, explained, “The goal was to modulate those damaged nerves in the spinal cord so that they once again could, would, become receptive to stimuli.”

The stimulator is turned on with a remote control and allows Stephenson to move one leg at the time. Other functions improved, too.

“The sexual function thing was huge for me because it was basically nothing before and, I mean, now, like, it's a lot better,” said Stephenson.

Three other patients reported similar improvements, although none of them can walk.

Pettigrew stresses that the device is not a cure and that more research is needed before it can be widely available. He said a spinal cord injury, though, may no longer mean a lifelong sentence of paralysis.

“What we see today with these four individuals now being able to have voluntary motion and voluntary control of their limbs and involuntary control of functions like bladder and bowel is very exciting,” said Pettigrew.

Researchers now plan to implant the device in eight more patients and try to stimulate more than one muscle group at the time.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Charmaine from: Durban SA
April 18, 2014 3:14 AM
How much does this implant cost. Is it affordable. Have a paraplegic son 28. Chest down.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid