Neuroprosthesis allows Parkinson’s patient to walk again

Neuroprótesis permite a paciente de Parkinson volver a caminar

Scientists in Lausanne (Switzerland) have created a neuroprosthesis that allows Parkinson’s patients to regain good mobility.

Frenchman Marc Gauthier, 62, was the first patient in the world to be treated with this technique. He now recognizes that, thanks to the neuroprosthesis, he can walk about six kilometers unaided. All with less pain and fatigue.

Why has this neuroprosthesis been created for Parkinson’s disease?

Neuroscientists in Switzerland have created a neuroprosthesis that allows patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease to walk normally again.

Marc received a new neuroprosthesis after several months of rehabilitation. With this he completely overcame his walking problems, because they did not respond to any of the treatments he received. He shared his experience in a statement to the EFE news agency.

At first the patient did not think he would feel an immediate effect. But as soon as the neuroprosthesis was implanted, he felt an instant improvement. He used to have difficulty getting around and could not climb stairs. Now you can move more freely and without fear. The change is such that Marc now walks about six kilometers alone and without assistance.

Tested on animals rather than humans

Before testing in humans, tests were performed in primates to find out what parameters the neuroprosthesis should have. As the power required, the area to stimulate in each case and the best way to do it.

According to Spanish neuroengineer Eduardo Martín Moraud, head of NeuroRestore, the scientists had been working on the project for several years.

Parkinson’s disease does not prevent the brain from sending movement instructions to the legs through the spinal cord, but rather “changes or weakens” the brain to send a message.

The neuroprosthesis consists of electrodes connected to the spinal cord. These are directly connected to a neurostimulator implanted in the subcutaneous area of the abdomen. It is also controlled externally by a remote control.

Regarding the implantation technique, neurosurgeon and NeuroRestore co-director Jocelyne Bloch said it was a “completely customized” procedure.

During the surgical procedure, the stimulation effect of the electrodes is tested to adjust their position and power to the case, depending on the response of each patient’s muscles to the stimuli.

What is the neuroprosthetics company planning?

The NeuroRestore team plans to conduct a trial with 80-100 participants to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the neuroprosthesis, and seek approval from health authorities for its use.

According to neuroscience professor Grégoire Courtine of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the long-term idea is to make this treatment available to all Parkinson’s patients. As well as a treatment using deep brain stimulation to control the tremors and stiffness caused by this disease.

According to this expert, the team’s goal is to create a technology that adapts to the specific needs of patients. All depending on how each person’s disease progresses. To this end, additional clinical trials with six patients will be conducted in the coming months.

These trials are funded by grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation. It has been created by one of the world’s most famous people with Parkinson’s disease, actor Michael J. Fox. Research is funded here to find a cure for this degenerative disease.

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