New Spinal Cord Implant May Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed
A spinal implant made of revolutionary flexible materials could be the key to those suffering from paralysis to regaining some or all of their movement.
A team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) have developed an implant made of e-Dura, a flexible material that can be placed on the spinal cord without causing damage to the nerve tissue.
For years, the team had been working on an implant that bridges paralyzed areas thereby allowing the nervous system to repair pathways and regain mobility. The problem they kept encountering was finding a material that wouldn’t inadvertently cause more spinal damage. However, the newly developed e-Dura material is able to mimic the spinal cord’s protective membrane, known as dura matter. It’s also soft and pliable enough so as not to damage the surrounding nerves.
Stephanie Lacour, a member of the team, described the implant:
“Our e-Dura implant can remain for a long period of time on the spinal cord or the cortex, precisely because it has the same mechanical properties as the dura matter itself. This opens up new therapeutic possibilities for patients suffering from neurological trauma or disorders, particularly individuals who have become paralyzed following spinal cord injury.”While there is still a great deal of work to be done, a video released by the group shows that trials on rats have been successful in reestablishing some movement and they are hopeful further trials will lead to a major breakthrough.