New Study Hints an Implant as a Solution for Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s, New Study

Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that causes the nervous system to deteriorate. Approximately 90% of people with severe Parkinson’s disease have “locomotor deficits,” which affect their freedom of movement when walking. Although Parkinson’s disease currently has no known cure, it is becoming more and more manageable.

The epidural implant, created by NeuroRestore, University Hospital Lausanne, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, rests on the lower spinal cord and uses the brain to transmit signals to the legs.

According to the study, the implant’s stimulation of those nerves helps to “alleviate asymmetry and promote longer steps, improve balance, and reduce freezing of gait,” which facilitates more comfortable movement of the leg muscles.  

A Real Story

Marc Gauthier now won’t have to freeze in place or tense up when he steps into an elevator. He can wander along the lake for three miles without stopping. He has no trouble getting out of a chair. Until recently, these routine tasks presented a difficulty for Gauthier, 63, who has had Parkinson’s disease for nearly thirty years.”

To treat gait abnormalities in Parkinson’s disease patients, Gauthier underwent surgery to install an experimental spinal cord neuroprosthesis. He claimed that it has gradually helped him regain his gait.

“Walking in a store would be really difficult, impossible before, because of the freezing of gait that would often happen in those environments. And now, it just doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t have freezing anymore,” Gauthier, who lives near Bordeaux, France, said in a news briefing, speaking in French that was translated to English.

Nature Medicine Journal

The research, which was published on Monday in the Nature Medicine Journal, describes in detail how the neuroprosthesis functions by applying electrical stimulation to particular spinal cord regions linked to walking.

“The neuroprosthetic approach that we have developed here allows for the first time to target and address these problems individually in a highly specific manner for each patient,” Moraud said. “It operates in real time, and importantly, it is complementary to other existing therapies.”

Parts of the brain degrade with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder. Walking-related symptoms arise from damage or death of nerve cells in the basal ganglia region of the brain, which regulates movement. The lack of dopamine that results from the death or impairment of these nerve cells frequently affects a person’s ability to move, walk, or balance. These nerve cells ordinarily generate dopamine. Deficits in locomotion are experienced by about 90% of patients. Although there isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s disease at this time, some treatments, such deep brain stimulation or drugs to raise dopamine levels, may help with symptoms.

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