Parkinson's Patient Walks Again After Receiving Spinal Cord Implants


Parkinson's disease causes the control of limbs to be disturbed so that the patient is no longer able to be independent. Various studies are being done to enable faster detection and treatment. This week Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) announced that they had successfully restored the ability to walk in a Parkinson's patient using an implant on the spinal cord.

The patient, identified only as Marc from France, received an implant in his spinal cord two years ago. After undergoing the rehabilitation process for several days, Marc was able to walk normally again. Before that he would always fall when trying to walk. Now he can walk up to 6 kilometers a day without any issues.

An implant in the form of an electrode is placed on the spinal cord with an electrical impulse generator placed under the skin on the abdomen. Sensors are worn on the legs to detect walking movements which then send electrical impulses to neurons in the spinal cord. Through this procedure Marc can now walk again.

Although trials of the implant have shown success, researchers from CHUV say it is not yet ready for use by all Parkinson's patients. This is because the implant was created specifically for Marc after performing a full mapping of his spinal cord. More clinical trials are needed to allow more patients to receive the same treatment.

This is the second success in restoring mobility for CHUVs. Last year researchers from CHUV and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) succeeded in restoring the ability to walk in paralyzed individuals also through the use of electrical impulses in the spinal cord implant.

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