Ten patients with complete motor and sensory spinal cord injury were implanted with an experimental device designed to regenerate nerve fibers, promoting some degree of functional recovery. The device, an oscillating field stimulator or OFS, creates an electrical field in the area of injury.
All 10 trial participants implanted with the OFS showed some improvement in sensation at six months and the nine patients who remained in the trial also showed improvement one year post surgery, although the degree of improvement varied by patient.
Two of the patients recovered some lower extremity function, and one man had restored sexual function. All patients participating in the trial had sustained complete motor and sensory spinal cord injury within 18 days of the surgery.
"This isn't a home run, but it warrants additional investigation," said Scott Shapiro, M.D., professor of neurosurgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "The big question was whether the procedure, which is very invasive and requires two surgeries, is efficacious and the initial results indicate that it is."
The cigarette lighter-sized oscillating field stimulator was developed at Purdue University and first tested in more than 100 dogs crippled by naturally occurring spinal cord injuries. The prognosis for severely injured paraplegic dogs, even with current treatment techniques, remains poor.
"The results of these various animal studies were positive and somewhat mirrored what was later observed in humans, including recovery of sensation and other important functions," said Richard Borgens, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering in the Center for Paralysis Researc
Contact: Mary Hardin