Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

News Feed Item

Four Paraplegic Men Voluntarily Move Their Legs, an "Unprecedented Breakthrough" for Paralysis Community

New Research Documents the Effectiveness of Epidural Stimulation as a Therapy Option for Paralysis; Results Published Today in Brain

LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Four young men who have been paralyzed for years achieved groundbreaking progress – moving their legs – as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, an international team of life scientists at the University of Louisville, UCLA and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology reported today in the medical journal Brain. The study was funded in part by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

All four participants were classified with a chronic motor complete spinal cord injury and were unable to move their lower extremities prior to the implantation of an epidural stimulator. This research builds on an initial study, published in the May 2011 edition of The Lancet, which evaluated the effects of epidural stimulation in the first participant, Rob Summers, who recovered a number of motor functions as a result of the intervention.

Now three years later, the key findings documented in Brain detail the impact of epidural stimulation in four participants, including new tests conducted on Summers. What is truly revolutionary is that the second, third and fourth participants were able to execute voluntary movements immediately following the implantation and activation of the stimulator. The results and recovery time were unexpected, leading researchers to speculate that some pathways may be intact post-injury and therefore able to facilitate voluntary movements.

"Two of the four subjects were diagnosed as motor and sensory complete injured with no chance of recovery at all," Claudia Angeli, Ph.D., senior researcher, Human Locomotor Research Center at Frazier Rehab Institute, and assistant professor, University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) and lead author. "Because of epidural stimulation, they can now voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes. This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery."

These results were achieved through continual direct epidural electrical stimulation of the participants' lower spinal cords, mimicking signals the brain normally transmits to initiate movement. Once the signal was triggered, the spinal cord reengaged its neural network to control and direct muscle movements. When coupling the intervention with rehabilitative therapy, the impact of epidural stimulation intensified. Over the course of the study, the researchers noted that the participants were able to activate movements with less stimulation, demonstrating the ability of the spinal network to learn and improve nerve functions.

"We have uncovered a fundamentally new intervention strategy that can dramatically affect recovery of voluntary movement in individuals with complete paralysis even years after injury," said Susan Harkema, Ph.D., University of Louisville professor and rehabilitation research director at KSCIRC, Frazier Rehab Institute, director of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network and primary author of The Lancet article. "The belief that no recovery is possible and complete paralysis is permanent has been challenged."

Beyond regaining voluntary movement, the research participants have displayed a myriad of improvements in their overall health, including the increase of muscle mass and regulation of their blood pressure, as well as reduced fatigue and transformational changes to their sense of well-being. Additionally, all four men were able to bear weight independently, as reported by the team, which also includes Yury Gerasimenko, Ph.D., professor and director of the laboratory of movement physiology at St. Petersburg's Pavlov Institute and a researcher in UCLA's Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology.

"This research brings up an amazing number of possibilities for how we can develop interventions that will help people recover movement they have lost," said V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D., UCLA distinguished professor of integrative biology, physiology, neurobiology and neurosurgery. "The circuitry in the spinal cord is remarkably resilient. Once you get them up and active, many physiological systems that are intricately connected and were dormant come back into play."

Providing Hope for People Living with Paralysis
With nearly six million Americans living with paralysis, including 1.275 million spinal cord injuries, this study confirms a significant breakthrough in terms of developing clinical therapies to advance the treatment of paralysis. The participants ranged in neurological level from C7-T5 and were at least two years post–injury at the time of the intervention. The initial research hypothesis stated that the two participants with the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) classification of AIS A would not elicit any voluntary movement, despite the therapy intervention, and the two participants who were AIS B would develop voluntary movement following a combination of training and epidural stimulation. However, in the presence of epidural stimulation, all four recovered voluntary control of their lower extremities, surprising researchers who believed at least some of the sensory pathway must be intact for epidural stimulation to be successful.

As the first epidural stimulation participant, Rob Summers moved the needle for the entire field with his unprecedented recovery. With a C6 injury, he was paralyzed below the chest after being struck by a vehicle in 2006. Summers currently resides in Portland, Oregon. The other three research participants include:

  • Kent Stephenson was the second person to undergo epidural stimulation after sustaining an injury at T5-T6 during a motocross accident in 2009. He resides in Mount Pleasant, Texas.
  • Andrew Meas was in a motorcycle accident in 2007, resulting in an injury at C6-C7. Meas was the third person implanted and lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Dustin Shillcox injured his spine at T5 in a devastating auto accident in 2010. He was the fourth participant and resides in Green River, Wyoming.

"With this study the investigators show that their findings about a motor complete patient regaining movement, as published three years ago in The Lancet, were not an anomaly," said Susan Howley, executive vice president for research at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.  "At the present time, other than standard medical care, there are no effective evidence-based treatments for chronic spinal cord injury. However, the implications of this study for the entire field are quite profound and we can now envision a day where epidural stimulation might be part of a cocktail of therapies used to treat paralysis."

Investing in Epidural Stimulation
The research was funded by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (RO1EB007615, P30 GM103507), the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Kessler Foundation, the University of Louisville Foundation, Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Foundation, Frazier Rehab Institute and University of Louisville Hospital.

"When we first learned that a patient had regained voluntary control as a result of the therapy, we were cautiously optimistic," said Roderic Pettigrew, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which provided support for the study. "Now that spinal stimulation has been successful in four out of four patients, there is evidence to suggest a large cohort of individuals, previously with little realistic hope of any meaningful recovery from spinal cord injury, may benefit from this intervention."

Epidural stimulation, in the context of paralysis of the lower extremities, is the application of continuous electrical current, at varying frequencies and intensities to specific locations on the lumbosacral spinal cord, corresponding to the dense neural bundles that largely control movement of the hips, knees, ankles and toes.

"This is a wake-up call for how we see motor complete spinal cord injury," said Edgerton, who has been conducting fundamental research in this area for 38 years and is a member of the Reeve Foundation's International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury. "We don't have to necessarily rely on regrowth of nerves in order to regain function. The fact that we've observed this in four out of four people suggests that this is actually a common phenomenon in those diagnosed with complete paralysis."

Dr. Angeli and her colleagues are optimistic that the therapy intervention will continue to result in improved motor functions. In fact, based on observations from the research, there is strong evidence that with continued advancements of the epidural stimulator, individuals with a complete spinal cord injury will be able to bear weight independently, maintain balance and work towards stepping.

For more information about epidural stimulation and other spinal cord injury research, please visit http://chartingourcourse.org/research/victory.html and www.christopherreeve.org/epi

For research information, patient bios and multimedia, please visit https://app.box.com/s/22vptu3trdhddy57j69i

Bibliographic details:
'Altering spinal cord excitability enables voluntary movements after chronic complete paralysis in humans' by Claudia Angeli, Victor R. Edgerton, Yury Gerasimenko, and Susan Harkema.

Brain: A Journal of Neuroscience, doi: 10.1093/brain/awu038

About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau's standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB's Charity Seal.  For more information, please visit our website at www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.

About the University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is Kentucky's metropolitan research university, with 22,000 students attending classes at 11 colleges and schools on three campuses. Bordered by its many medical partners, UofL's downtown Health Sciences Center is home to more than 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields with the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

About UCLA
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Seven alumni and six faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize. For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

About the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is part of the National Institutes of Health, the nation's medical research agency and a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services. NIBIB's mission is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care. NIBIB supports emerging technology research and development within its internal laboratories and through grants, collaborations, and training. More information is available at the NIBIB website: http://www.nibib.nih.gov.

About Brain: A Journal of Neuroscience
Brain provides researchers and clinicians with the finest original contributions in neurology. Leading studies in neurological science are balanced with practical clinical articles. Its citation rating is one of the highest for neurology journals, and it consistently publishes papers that become classics in the field. Brain is published by Oxford University Press.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100511/REEVELOGO

SOURCE Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so the...
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, will discuss how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the ...
ElasticBox, the agile application delivery manager, announced freely available public boxes for the DevOps community. ElasticBox works with enterprises to help them deploy any application to any cloud. Public boxes are curated reference boxes that represent some of the most popular applications and tools for orchestrating deployments at scale. Boxes are an adaptive way to represent reusable infrastructure as components of code. Boxes contain scripts, variables, and metadata to automate proces...
To assist customers with legacy Windows Server 2003 that is no longer supported by Microsoft, Racemi has introduced fixed price packages for upgrading and migrating Windows Server 2003 servers to either Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 R2 and the choice of Amazon Web Services (AWS) or SoftLayer cloud. "We're extending a lifeline by upgrading the legacy servers to more modern Windows Server platforms while taking advantage of cloud computing," said James Strayer, vice president of product managem...
To support developers and operations professionals in their push to implement DevOps principles for their infrastructure environments, ProfitBricks, a provider of cloud infrastructure, is adding support for DevOps tools Ansible and Chef. Ansible is a platform for configuring and managing data center infrastructure that combines multi-node software deployment, ad hoc task execution, and configuration management, and is used by DevOps professionals as they use its playbooks functionality to autom...
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
In their Live Hack” presentation at 17th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty and Paul Fletcher, Chief Security Evangelists at Alert Logic, will provide the audience with a chance to see a live demonstration of the common tools cyber attackers use to attack cloud and traditional IT systems. This “Live Hack” uses open source attack tools that are free and available for download by anybody. Attendees will learn where to find and how to operate these tools for the purpose of testing their own IT infrastructu...