The E-Stim Bandwagon Effect

From left: Susan Harkema, Rob Summers, Reggie Edgerton in November 2011

“. . . we delivered trains of spatially selective stimulation to the lumbosacral spinal cord with timing that coincided with the intended movement. Within one week, this spatiotemporal stimulation had re-established adaptive control of paralyzed muscles during overground walking. Locomotor performance improved during rehabilitation. After a few months, participants regained voluntary control over previously paralyzed muscles without stimulation . . .”

“Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation holds a lot of promise to amplify recovery, with very little risk. There is a lot we still don’t understand, including the most efficacious waveform and optimal dose. Our work (soon to be published in Spinal Cord Series and Cases) indicates that a clinically available biphasic waveform was effective at amplifying response to traditional walking-based interventions. These units are available now and already in a lot of clinics. This is significant because it means more people can have access to the intervention, and the more people who get the intervention, the more we understand it. Widespread use will help us to better understand issues related to waveform and dose, but also characteristics of responders. This information helps move us toward more target, personalized interventions yielding better, faster results.”

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