Stroke Survivors Improved Limb Mobility With Spinal Cord Stimulation


There’s a trial with a Spinal Electrical Cord Stimulator which improves the limb strength of stroke survivors. After the trials, the results look positive. The stimulator instantly and quickly boost movement in the limbs. Specifically, in the arms and hands, it improves the ability of people with chronic motor functioning loss.

Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh discovered that using stimulators can boost movement. By using electrical pulses to activate intact neurons that stimulate the spinal cord using a pair of thin metal sensors implanted at the neck. Their research also says that more than three-fourths of those who suffer a stroke have hand and arm functioning problems. These problems include partial paralysis and hemiparesis.

Stroke effects not always going away, and having permanent effects. These schools wanted to create something that would help the conditions of people that have been through a stroke. Their intent for this trial was that it would work when the device was on, however, the results were better than they expected.

What the Trial Showed

According to Marco Capogrosso, co-founder of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Pitt, “Electrical stimulation of various spinal cord regions helps patients to move their arms in ways that they are unlikely to do without the stimulation. Perhaps more excitingly, we discovered that after a few weeks of use, some of these gains continue even when the stimulation is taken out, indicating successful approaches for stroke therapies in the future.”

The trial was made on two women, ages 31 and 47, for 29 days. They both were living with chronic limb weaknesses after going through a stroke.

Courtesy of Paul Long (Flickr CC0)

The outcome showed that the trial was successful for both women. Some of the things they were able to do with the implant used a knife, paint, write, and open locks. Even after the trial ended, the effects and skills lasted for another four weeks. They both said it was not painful it only felt like a tickle, and that they would keep it on if they were able to.

What Is a Stroke (also known as a CVA)

It is a medical emergency, since its damages the brain due to a lack of blood supply. The three types are transient ischemic attack, hemorrhagic CVA, and ischemic CVA. Around 87% of CVAs however are ischemic. Additionally, causes include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and blood vessel diseases, high cholesterol levels, and smoking.

Some after-effects of a CVA include:

  • Paralysis.
  • The trouble with thinking, awareness, memory, learning, and judgment.
  • Problems with Speech.
  • Trouble Controlling Emotions.
  • Numbness or strange sensations.
  • Pain in hands and feet with temperature changes.
  • Bladder Problems.

Since CVAs are deadly, they need to be attended to as soon as one has happened. The faster someone receives treatment, the less serious their condition will be. For more information about Strokes: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs of a CVA:

  • Sudden Numbness.
  • Sudden Confusion.
  • Sudden Trouble Speaking.
  • Sudden Trouble Seeing.
  • Sudden extreme headache with no known cause.

If anyone believes someone is having a stroke think F.A.S.T.:

  • Face (when smiling does one side of their face drop?).
  • Arms (when lifted does one fall?).
  • Speech ( is their talking slurred? Or different than usual?).
  • Time is of the essence to receive help.

If someone is experiencing this, call 911.

Although some CVA symptoms will never go away, science has developed treatments like Spinal Cord Stimulation that will help improve CVA Survivors. Both schools are looking to make this trial an actual treatment in clinics.


New Atlas: Spinal cord stimulation restores limb mobility in stroke survivors

University of Pittsburgh: Spinal Cord Stimulation Improves Arm Mobility After Stroke

CDC: Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Featured Image Courtesy of Presidencia de la Republica Mexicana’s photostream Flickr Page- Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Paul Long Flickr Page- Creative Commons License

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