(ORDO NEWS) — The first clinical trials of a new implant designed to restore the mobility of paralyzed people were successful. Testing was carried out at the University Hospital of Lausanne. Three patients took part in the testing.
The research team, led by professor and neurosurgeon at the Clinic of Lausanne (CHUV) Jocelyn Bloch, has improved the system with more complex implants controlled by artificial intelligence software.
These implants are able to stimulate an area of the spinal cord that activates the muscles of the trunk and legs.
One of the patients, Michel Roccati, was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2017, leading to paralysis of the lower extremities. However, the use of new technology allowed Roccati to walk independently.
New advanced spinal cord implants are longer (up to 6 cm) and allow access to more muscles in patients.
Almost immediately after the operation, Roccati began a course of rehabilitation, and after 4 months he was able to walk, relying on standard walker supports. Currently, the patient can stay upright for up to 2 hours and is able to walk up to one kilometer.
Research and development of the new technology continues, and there is still a long period of clinical trials ahead.
So far, the technology can help people whose injury has affected the region of the spine above the lower thoracic spinal cord, since for its successful application at least 6 cm of a healthy spinal cord is needed.
The research team plans to miniaturize a computer that activates pulses to allow the implant to be controlled using a smartphone. Already this year, it is planned to conduct large-scale trials involving 50 to 100 patients in the US and Europe.
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