Individual with complete spinal cord injury regains voluntary motor function
By: Victory Over Paralysis
Oct 26, 2017

Extended activity-based training with epidural stimulation resulted in ability to move without stimulation

Severe spinal cord injury has devastating effects on the affected individuals and, most often, leads leading to paralysis. Our research team has previously shown that epidural stimulation of the spinal cord combined with intense rehabilitative training can help in the recovery of voluntary movement and standing. So far, this recovery has only been demonstrated when the spinal cord stimulation was being applied. In this paper, we show the progressive recovery of voluntary movement control and standing ability without the use of spinal cord stimulation in one individual that received 3.7 years of different rehabilitative training protocols combined with spinal stimulation. In particular, this report shows the effects of training-induced adaptations of the spinal cord that allowed this individual to advance from no ability to move his legs to the ability to move his legs and stand without spinal stimulation. These findings show the extraordinary recovery potential of the human nervous system after severe spinal cord injury, and suggest future studies focus on better understanding the effects of different training components on spinal cord adaptations important for functional recovery.