For the first time, scientsist have been able to restore the ability to grasp with a paralysed hand using spinal cord stimulation. There is currently no cure for upper limb paralysis, which can be commonly caused by stroke.
Wellcome Trust-funded researchers at Newcastle University have now shown that by connecting the brain to a computer and then the computer to the spinal cord, it is possible to restore movement. The discovery opens up the possibility of new treatments within the next few years which could help stroke survivors or those with spinal cord injuries regain some movement in their arms and hands.
Comment on the research findings, Dr Shamim Quadir, Research Communications Officer at the Stroke Association, said: “Partial paralysis of the arms, typically on just one side, is common after stroke, and can affect a person’s ability to wash, dress or feed themselves. Only about 15% of stroke patients will spontaneously recover the use of their hand and arm, with many people left facing the rest of their lives with a severe level of disability.
“Whilst it is still very early days, these exciting findings should help us better understand how paralysed stroke survivors can recover some movement in their arms and hands. By bridging across damaged parts of the brain, and unlocking its signals, we hope more people will be able to make their best possible recovery from the devastating effects of stroke.”