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Thread: A Cure for Paralysis: One Scientist's Prediction Delivers Mixed Results

  1. #1
    Senior Member mj23's Avatar
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    A Cure for Paralysis: One Scientist's Prediction Delivers Mixed Results

    A Cure for Paralysis: One Scientist's Prediction Delivers Mixed Results

    10 years ago, physiologist Chet Moritz predicted there could be a cure for paralysis in as little as a decade. Was he right?

    By Anna FunkAugust 27, 2019 11:35 AM


    Nerve stimulation, and other tech, can now allow once-paralyzed patients to take steps. (Credit: EPFL/Jamani Caillet)

    In 2009, Discover reported that University of Washington physiologist Chet Moritz had made serious strides toward curing paralysis. He and his colleagues figured out a way to record and transfer signals from a macaque?s brain to its paralyzed arm, bypassing its injured nerves, and allowing the monkey to control its limb once more.

    Challenges remained, but Moritz told Discover he thought advances in these technologies could provide an answer to paralysis in as little as 10 years. Well, it?s 2019 ? was he right?

    Yes and no. Three different research groups have recently announced that they?ve achieved the first independent walking steps taken by patients with spinal cord injuries. But the groups, all unaffiliated with Moritz, didn?t do it his way.


    Instead, the teams figured out how to coax the injured nerves to work on their own using ?epidural stimulation? ? electrical pulses delivered directly to the spinal cord.

    These pulses don?t give the limbs specific instructions; rather, the electricity provides the existing nerves the boost they need to let the brain communicate naturally to the paralyzed limb. It?s an approach that could help treat paralysis cases where some nerve connections remain ? about 90 percent of people with spinal injuries.
    For the 10 percent of people with a completely severed spinal cord, Moritz?s method may still be the best path forward, since it bypasses the need for any nerve-based communication. But, he says, the type of biomedical device required for reading and understanding brain signals is not quite ready.
    ?If I had known [in 2009] what I know now about implanted medical devices, I would?ve said more than 10 years,? says Moritz.

    Epidural stimulation is promising; besides improved mobility, some patients also regained bladder/bowel control and even some sexual function. And Moritz?s own explorations of spinal electrical stimulation have shown it has similar effects on paralyzed arms, not just legs. But he emphasizes that we haven?t ?cured? paralysis. ?I think it?s important to call it stepping, as opposed to walking,? he says. ?They?re not walking away from their wheelchair with their hands on nothing, with no body weight support, with no balance aids.?

    Researchers still need to work on restoring the quick, smooth gait we typically picture as walking.


    So that can be my next 10-year prediction,? says Moritz. ?Ten years from now, we?ll have people walking as if they didn?t have a spinal cord injury before.?

    We?ll see what 2029 brings.
    https://www.discovermagazine.com/the...-mixed-results



    Last edited by mj23; 12-30-2019 at 12:32 PM.
    C-5, 6 SCI. Took about 6 months to walk. Walking full time. Without any assistance since Nov. 2003 and will make a full recovery

  2. #2
    Thanks for posting this. I spoke to Chet Moritz about participating in a study in Washington. He seems like a great person who really dedicated incredible time and energy to the spinal cord community.

    Unfortunately, they aren't there yet but with people like Chet and others doing what they do, hopefully they will get there sooner than later.

  3. #3
    They told me 46 years ago it would be 7 years for the cure.... 46 years ago. No matter, if there is going to be a cure you need to be in shape to take advantage of it and if no cure, in my case, you need to be in shape to drag your sorry ass thru life.

    I think they tell new injuries that to give them hope for seven years. Usually after that period of time, the person is acclimatized to their disability.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    They told me 46 years ago it would be 7 years for the cure.... 46 years ago. No matter, if there is going to be a cure you need to be in shape to take advantage of it and if no cure, in my case, you need to be in shape to drag your sorry ass thru life.

    I think they tell new injuries that to give them hope for seven years. Usually after that period of time, the person is acclimatized to their disability.
    In my experience it is quite the opposite. Doctors and Rehabilitation therapists seem to be extremely pessimistic about people's chances often telling them they will likely never walk or experience life the same as before again.

    It is the scientists and researchers giving timelines that unfortunately do not come to fruition. Certainly not from a lack of trying.

    Thankfully though technology today and science today is significantly different than it was 50 years ago. Things progress exponentially and the long-term prognosis for somebody injured today is significantly more optimistic than someone injured years ago.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchitsu View Post
    In my experience it is quite the opposite. Doctors and Rehabilitation therapists seem to be extremely pessimistic about people's chances often telling them they will likely never walk or experience life the same as before again.

    It is the scientists and researchers giving timelines that unfortunately do not come to fruition. Certainly not from a lack of trying.

    Thankfully though technology today and science today is significantly different than it was 50 years ago. Things progress exponentially and the long-term prognosis for somebody injured today is significantly more optimistic than someone injured years ago.
    If you aren't maximizing your potential both physically and financially, a cure is not going to do you any good. The person won't be accepted due to either not being viewed as a candidate due to being unfit or unable to pay for it. Insurance won't pay. I realize I wouldn't be accepted due to age but is still a motivation in maximizing my potential.

    Todays technology and understanding has kept us living longer and in better condition. Many of us older sci's had a lifetime expectancy of 25 years post for paras and 3 years post for quads. Now our life expectancy is almost on par with AB's. I truly hope to see a cure for others in my lifetime.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    Many of us older sci's had a lifetime expectancy of 25 years post for paras and 3 years post for quads.
    Which is why we were told 3-5 years for a cure. We weren't supposed to live long enough to find out they were full of shit.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    If you aren't maximizing your potential both physically and financially, a cure is not going to do you any good. The person won't be accepted due to either not being viewed as a candidate due to being unfit or unable to pay for it. Insurance won't pay. I realize I wouldn't be accepted due to age but is still a motivation in maximizing my potential.
    Not true. A critical part of bringing a therapy to market is ensuring insurance will cover it so ALL can have access. Wise's therapy, if proven to be effective in phase III, will be covered by insurance.

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