In 2017, Michel Roccati met with an accident that turned his lower body paralyzed. Fortunately, he walked in 2020 with a spinal cord implant. The implant is a life-giver. It was possible for it to mimic the action of the brain and help people with severe spinal injuries. Roccati fruitfully shared his experience. He explained the emotional journey of the activation of the electrical pulses.
“It is an emotional experience. It requires sheer perseverance and I am up for it.”
"These electrodes were longer and larger than the ones we had previously implanted, and we were able to obtain more muscles huge kudos to this new technology," said Jocelyne Bloch, a neurosurgeon at Lausanne University Hospital who assisted in the trial's coordination. The electrodes work wonders and within no time Roccati could walk with only a frame for support. The neuroscience scientists explain that it is not a miracle, it is continuous research and hard work.
“It is not a miracle but intense research behind it. It is a wonder that electrical pulses can cure paralysis and we are up for stronger and deeper study”. Roccati is now able to walk nearly a kilometer and stand for long hours without any regular balance. Three of them are able to climb, swim and canoe. The improvement is huge. The patients can now activate muscles at a slow pace. There are challenges in the early stage of recovery. A patient’s capacity is still fluid and there is no baseline to support and make progress. Ongoing medical treatment and pain may obstruct long-term rehabilitation.
The implants work fruitfully on the lower thoracic spinal cord. Researchers and technology find it hard to believe that electrical pulses can treat paralysis. Electrical pulses are successful in treating low blood pressure in spinal cord injuries and plan to research and publish a study on Parkinson’s disease. The team cautioned that much work remains to be done before the implant is ready for use outside of clinical trials, but they said they receive about five messages a day from patients seeking assistance. They intend to miniaturize the computer that controls the pulses so that they can be implanted in patients and controlled via a smartphone in the future. They anticipate that large-scale trials involving 50-100 patients can be conducted both in the United States and Europe. They believe that they can with utmost power work towards the goal.
Roccati claims he uses the implant every day at home and that it is getting stronger. He explains that he sees improvements every day and feels better about it.
“It feels good to heal. The implant instills confidence in me and make me feel more patient. I can sense the improvement every day.”
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