New spinal implant to help people exercise paralysed limbs

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - People with paraplegia would now be able to exercise their paralysed leg muscles, thanks to a new type of microchip muscle stimulator implant.

For the first time ever, researchers have developed a device of this kind that is small enough to be implanted into the spinal canal and incorporates the electrodes and muscle stimulator in one unit. The implant is the size of a child’s fingernail.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project is being led by Professor Andreas Demosthenous from University College London. It includes engineers from Freiburg University and the Tyndall Institute in Cork.

“The work has the potential to stimulate more muscle groups than is currently possible with existing technology because a number of these devices can be implanted into the spinal canal”, said Andreas Demosthenous from University College London.

“Stimulation of more muscle groups means users can perform enough movement to carry out controlled exercise such as cycling or rowing,” he said.

The devices could also be used for a wide range of restorative functions such as stimulating bladder muscles to help overcome incontinence and stimulating nerves to improve bowel capacity and suppress spasms. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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