March 2, 2024

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Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients



 

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

After a stroke , nearly three-quarters of people have long-term impairment of motor control of the arms and hands. T

he persistence of these movement disorders is partly due to the limitations of current neurorehabilitation approaches.

Epidural electrical stimulation is a clinically approved technique for electrical stimulation of the spinal cord that has the potential to promote long-term rehabilitation of leg motor function in people with spinal cord injuries.

Despite these encouraging findings, epidural stimulation of the cervical spinal cord for upper extremity rehabilitation is largely unexplored.

 

On February 20, 2023, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh published a research paper entitled: Epidural stimulation of the cervical spinal cord for post-stroke upper-limb paresis in the top international medical journal Nature Medicine .

This clinical study reports that epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical spinal cord improved motor exercise and strength in the arms and hands of two patients with chronic post-stroke weakness .

These data provide preliminary evidence for the potential of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) as a recovery method for upper extremity rehabilitation after stroke.

 

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

 

The research team implanted spinal cord stimulation (SCS) electrodes for 29 days in the cervical spinal cords of two patients (female, 31 and 47 years old) with chronic upper extremity weakness after stroke , targeting the neural circuits that control the arms and hands.

 

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

 

Continuous epidural electrical stimulation of these spinal circuits improved strength and dexterity in the patients’ arms and hands, the trial results showed.

The treatments also enabled patients to acquire fine motor skills such as picking locks and handling utensils to eat independently, tasks that one patient had been unable to perform for nine years.

 

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

 

 

The study also showed that the functional benefits of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) persisted for up to 4 weeks after stimulation was stopped. And there were no serious adverse events in this method.

 

The research team said that further studies in larger cohorts are needed to verify the safety and efficacy of this approach.

But this preliminary evidence already suggests that electrical neck stimulation can be used both as an assistive technology that improves a patient’s hand and arm motor function when turned on, and as a rehabilitation tool when turned off to allow people to regain lost motor function.

 

 

 

 

Paper link :
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02202-6

Nature Medicine: Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord aids upper limb rehabilitation in stroke patients

(source:internet, reference only)


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