After the stroke, the arm and hands were awakened using videotaped electrical stimuli

After the stroke, the arm and hands were awakened using videotaped electrical stimuli

“This was the first pilot study that we had to interrupt after 4 weeks,” the researchers told ANSA, “but we hope to reach clinical use of this technology in 5-10 years.” The researchers, coordinated by Douglas Weber of Carnegie Mellon University, implanted a pair of electrodes at neck level, which deliver pulses to activate neurons within the spinal cord. In this way the activity of the muscles weakened by the stroke can be amplified and strengthened, while leaving the patient in complete control of the movement, which only occurs when he or she decides to do so. Tests showed immediate improvement: the two women were able to grip objects and open a lock, tasks previously impossible. “It’s a very interesting experiment from the point of view of clinical potential that sees very precise bioengineering solutions,” Silvestro Messira, a professor at the Biorobotics Institute at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, told ANSA. The two researchers they worked with on studies allowed monkeys first and then humans to walk again. “With this study they moved from spinal cord injury to central nervous system damage due to stroke – explains Micera – and then from the lower extremities to the upper extremities.”

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