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New Treatment Helps Paralyzed Patients Move Again
Updated: Wednesday, April 9 2014, 12:50 PM EDT
In a new study released Tuesday in the journal Brain, researchers demonstrate a promising new technique to help people with paralysis.
Dustin Shillcox is paralyzed from the chest down and is one of four patients featured in the study. Doctors implanted a device sending electrical stimulation to his spine and when Dustin turns it on, he can move on demand. When the stimulator is turned off, Dustin can’t even sit up, because his torso muscles don’t work. When he turns it on, Dustin can sit up without any support at all.
"The first time i turned it on it was exciting and emotional for me at the same time," Dustin said. "Emotional because I was told that I'd never be able to walk or move my legs again."
It's not the first time electrical stimulation has helped paralyzed patients but experts say this technique may become another tool in the toolbox.
"I think what's incredibly exciting is we've open up a realm of possibilities of what we can do now with people who are paralyzed," Susan Harkema, a Neuroscientist from the University of Louisville said. "We've just scratched the surface."