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Hope for paraplegic patients
Date:5/16/2014

ents this summer. In this case, the patients are not completely paraplegic, which means there is still some limited communication between the brain and the legs. The scientists are currently working on tailored implants for the intervention. "However, even if both trials are a success, it will still be a few years before the system is ready for the general market. First, the method has to undergo clinical studies and demonstrate its effectiveness among a wider group of patients," says Detemple.

Electric spinal cord stimulation to offer relief for Parkinson's disease

Patients with Parkinson's disease could also benefit from the neural prostheses. The most well-known symptoms of the disease are trembling, extreme muscle tremors and a short, stooped gait that has a profound effect on patients' mobility. Until now this neurodegenerative disorder has mostly been treated with dopamine agonists drugs that chemically imitate the effects of dopamine but that often lead to severe side effects when taken over a longer period of time. Once the disease has reached an advanced stage, doctors often turn to deep brain stimulation. This involves a complex operation to implant electrodes in specific parts of the brain so that the nerve cells in the region can be stimulated or suppressed as required. In the NEUWalk project, researchers are working on electric spinal cord simulation an altogether less dangerous intervention that should however ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease just as effectively. "Initial animal testing has yielded some very promising results," says Detemple.

The researchers from Mainz will be at the Sensor + Test 2014 measurement fair in Nrnberg to showcase their neural prostheses. These include implantable microelectrode sensors controlled by microprocessors as well as rigid multi-channel sensors that can be used to record electrophysiological signals and to stimulate neural structures.


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Contact: Dr. Peter Detemple
Peter.Detemple@imm.fraunhofer.de
49-613-199-0318
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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