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Thread: Implant hope for paraplegics to walk again

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Implant hope for paraplegics to walk again

    Implant hope for paraplegics to walk again


    • Nick Miller Health Editor
    • November 17, 2008

    Dr Vivian Mushahwar. Photo: Rebecca Hallas

    AUSTRALIA's bionic ear experts may hold the key to perfecting a technique that will allow paraplegics to walk again.
    A Canadian researcher has been working for 15 years on bionic implants that use electrical signals to command "lifeless" limbs to stand and walk.
    The University of Alberta's Dr Vivian Mushahwar, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday, said her work had been proven in animals and she was about three years from human trials.
    But there remains a significant hurdle before it becomes widely available. A web of electrodes finer than a human hair must be placed exactly in the "spinal control centre" in the small of the back.
    This precise, laborious process is beyond the talents of all but the world's best surgeons.
    So Dr Mushahwar has come to Australia's first medical bionics conference, beginning today in Lorne, to discuss with local experts how the implantation might be made easier.
    "Our interest is in restoring standing and walking to people with paraplegia or spinal cord injury," she said. "The brain depends on the networks in the spinal cord. It says 'go', it says 'stand' — it gives a command and the networks in the spinal cord perform that command.
    "So (in a spinal injury patient where the connection to the brain has been severed) why don't we start providing these commands? If we know where to go in the spinal cord, to tap into those networks that the brain usually taps into, then we can say 'go' — we can say 'stand' and 'walk'."
    Existing bionic implants use electrodes that connect to muscles in the leg. More than a dozen people have received early prototypes. But their rediscovered ability to stand and walk was limited, "robotic" and tiring, Dr Mushahwar said.
    By tapping into the spinal control system in the small of the back instead, an implant can trigger a virtually natural walking motion. The body's inbuilt command structure uses the legs' "slow twitch" muscles, which will more than triple the amount of time a patient can stand and walk without tiring.
    "With the current systems there is a "walker" (walking frame) and you press a button to extend or flex your leg," Dr Mushahwar said. "(With the new system) a walker may be needed for balance but we hope we would go down to crutches. We are trying to eliminate the need to push buttons."
    But attaching the stimulator to the spinal cord is an incredibly difficult process. She has come to the

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/im...8.html?page=-1

  2. #2
    "With the current systems there is a "walker" (walking frame) and you press a button to extend or flex your leg," Dr Mushahwar said. "

    Is that the parastep? That thing never really got much coverage.

    f
    ight

  3. #3
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Bionic ear may hold key to paraplegic implants

    Bionic ear may hold key to paraplegic implants

    Posted Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:15pm AEDT




    A Canadian researcher says Australian scientists might provide the final piece of technology in a scientific project that aims to get paraplegics walking.
    Dr Vivian Mushahwar, an Associate professor in cell biology from the University of Alberta has been working on bionic implants for people who have lost the use of their legs.
    But Dr Mushahwar is yet to find a way for surgeons to implant the tiny web of electrodes into a patient's back.
    This week though she is in Victoria to see if Australian bionic ear experts can help.
    Dr Mushahwar wants to do for paraplegics what the bionic ear has done for hundreds of thousands of people without hearing.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2...17/2421911.htm

  4. #4
    Technology before biology, a real possibility.

  5. #5
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    i am a quad c6c7 i ried parastep i was not strong enough . maybe in a few yrs

    it looks good

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