Reports from two new clinical trials have been released in Nature Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine. They support previous research results that indicate that epidural spinal stimulation can help patients with lower limb paralysis regain some voluntary movement. Currently, researchers are using an off-the-shelf stimulation device that was developed for use with patients who suffer from chronic pain. The University of Louisville team found that all four patients tested were able to regain some voluntary movement, and two were able to achieve over-the-ground walking (not just on a treadmill.) The Mayo Clinic team tested only one patient but was able to replicate the results found at the University of Louisville: he was able to achieve over-the-ground walking with a front-wheeled walker after 43 weeks (9.8 months) of rehabilitation and training.

This work follows up on research previously funded by NIBIB, published in
https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/137/5/1394/333047 and
NIBIB press release: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/news-events/newsroom/spinal-stimulation-helps-four-patients-paraplegia-regain-voluntary-movement


Michael Wolfson, Ph.D., Director of the NIBIB program in Rehabilitation Engineering and Implantable Medical Devices.   Dr. Wolfson is available to discuss the unanswered scientific questions about the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon, ongoing research directions, and the future plans to develop new technology in support of this therapy.


Gill, Megan L., et al. “Neuromodulation of Lumbosacral Spinal Networks Enables Independent Stepping after Complete Paraplegia.” Nature Medicine, 2018, doi:10.1038/s41591-018-0175-7. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-018-0175-7#Abs1

Angeli, Claudia A., et al. “Recovery of Over-Ground Walking after Chronic Motor Complete Spinal Cord Injury.” New England Journal of Medicine, 2018, doi:10.1056/nejmoa1803588.


To schedule an interview, please contact Jessica Meade, NIBIB, 301-496-3500 or nibibpress@mail.nih.gov

NIBIB: 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 the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

NIBIB Communications
Jessica Meade
(301) 435-3500

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