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
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
"We got started as search consultants. On the services side of the business we have help organizations save time and save money when they hit issues that everyone more or less hits when their data grows," noted Otis Gospodnetić, Founder of Sematext, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
"We've just seen a huge influx of new partners coming into our ecosystem, and partners building unique offerings on top of our API set," explained Seth Bostock, Chief Executive Officer at IndependenceIT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world...
Public Cloud IaaS started its life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in adop...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
How do you securely enable access to your applications in AWS without exposing any attack surfaces? The answer is usually very complicated because application environments morph over time in response to growing requirements from your employee base, your partners and your customers. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Haseeb Budhani, CEO and Co-founder of Soha, shared five common approaches that DevOps teams follow to secure access to applications deployed in AWS, Azure, etc., and the friction an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of pro...
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect t...