You might think of paralysis as a problem that afflicts a small, unfortunate minority of people. If you were to guess, maybe you’d wager that one in 1,000 – or even as few as one in 10,000 – individuals suffer from paralysis… Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, it afflicts an absolutely staggering number of individuals:
“There are nearly one in 50 people living with paralysis – approximately six million people. That’s the same number of people as the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. And that number is nearly 33% higher than previous estimates showed.”
Given that paralysis is a much wider problem than most people assume – and even greater than previous professional researchers estimated – it’s no understatement to say that a cure would be nothing short of a breakthrough of epic proportions.
Well, believe it or not, a cure’s exactly what’s coming out of groundbreaking medical trials being conducted by Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Take a look at this video demonstrating EPFL’s success…
Lead researcher, Grégoire Courtine, began the study five years ago. Since embarking on it, his discoveries have profoundly changed our understanding of the central nervous system. Severe spinal cord injuries were once thought incurable, but Courtine’s research has now cast deep doubt on that assumption. Quoted in Mediacom, Courtine explains:
“After a couple of weeks of neuro-rehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation, our rats are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they are soon sprinting, climbing up stairs and avoiding obstacles when stimulated.”
The treatment works as follows…
In order to begin repair of the spinal column, the rats are injected with a chemical solution of what are called monoamine agonists. This solution acts as a substitute for neurotransmitters essential to a functioning central nervous system, for instance, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Once in place, these “makeshift” neurotransmitters cause neural responses that prep the lower body to begin functioning normally. After all the pieces are in place, the whole system is repaired and works on its own accord.
How long does it take for this process to unfold? Not long at all, according to Courtine:
“This is the World Cup of neurorehabilitation… Our rats have become athletes when just weeks before they were completely paralyzed. I am talking about 100% recuperation of voluntary movement.”
Yes, it’s just for rats at the moment, but phase two trials on humans are slated to begin as early as next year. And Courtine says he expects the same monumental success on humans as he’s had with rodents.
The future, to say the least, is suddenly looking much brighter for those with severe spinal cord injuries.