Flexible spinal cord implants will let paralyzed people walk

Flexible spinal cord implants will let paralyzed people walk
  • Treat epilepsy and Parkinson’s
  • Only tested on rats so far

It’ll be a while before e-Dura implants go into human field trials and reach hospitals

Developments have been going on for special implants for the paralyzed and doctors have long since wished to help the paralyzed walk properly. However, the nature of the implants made it nearly impossible because these stiff, unnatural gadgets would usually end up damaging or inflaming nervous tissue over time. But thanks to the Swiss researchers, this problem seems to have been taken care of with some new developments into this field.

They have introduced the bendy e-Dura implant which puts together flexible electrodes (made of platinum and silicon microbeads), cracked gold electronic tracks and fluidic microchannels. The combination of these helps to deliver electrical impulses as well as some chemicals all the while mimicking the spine’s movements and avoiding friction. Tests have been conducted on paralyzed rats in laboratories and within a few weeks they have shown signs of having the ability to walk again.

However, it will still take some time before these e-Dura implants can come into the field of human trials and an even longer way till they make their way to the hospitals. Scientists believe that this technology has the ability to reach well beyond just the spinal cord injuries; if developed properly, they can cure epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease and also help to reduce chronic pain for numerous conditions.

It must be clarified however that this is not a cure in itself. These implants are only a way to allow people to walk better and regain their mobility.

source: epfl

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