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A woman’s spinal cord has been reactivated: she can now walk

She had been bedridden for over 18 months due to a rare neurodegenerative disease, but thanks to an innovative surgery she can now stand and walk. It is the story of Nirina, a patient who was diagnosed with parkinsonian multisystem atrophy (Msa-p) and whose spinal cord was reactivated thanks to a series of electrodes implanted directly in the nerves, capable of generating electrical impulses, thus regulating blood pressure. To report it, among others, also the Ansa agency.

Symptoms of the disease

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The incredible result is thanks to the researchers of the University Hospital of Lausanne and the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, who reported the details of their intervention in a study that appeared in the scientific journal “The New England Journal of Medicine”. The woman, as mentioned, suffered from a form of atrophy for which there is still no cure and which includes symptoms such as stiffness, jerky irregular tremor and postural instability, movements that are particularly slow and difficult to control. The disease, specialists said, can also lead to the death of neurons responsible for controlling blood pressure. And this, in summary, means that if the patient tries to get upright, the pressure tends to drop drastically, causing fainting and fits and forcing the patient to lie down continuously.

The implanted electrodes

The implant used on the patient was initially designed for people paralyzed following trauma or accidents and also tested on quadriplegic patients for the treatment of blood pressure. In this case it was therefore the first time that the same system was applied for this kind of problem. The implanted electrodes, the researchers explained, were connected to a pulse generator, usually used to treat chronic pain, allowing the patient’s body to improve its ability to control pressure. And allowing her to remain conscious when she is in an upright position, so that she can undertake the physiotherapy process. The peculiarity is that, thanks to the help of a remote control, the woman was able to personally control the intensity of the stimulation received by the electrodes. In doing so, she was able to get back on her feet and walk more than 250 meters. Now, as confirmed by the experts, the overall goal will be to make this therapy available to all those who need it.

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