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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

New trial aiming to repair injured spinal cords in Australia

Some points from the article:

"Everybody keeps saying in 10 years' time things will be different and it just goes on and on," said Ms Howarth, who uses a wheelchair "99.9 per cent" of the time.

"But this is the first time we can actually think, yes, this treatment could actually deliver improvements to people's lives in five years' time."

In July (2018), a team at University of Technology, Sydney, will attempt to replicate and build on the work of Professor Reggie Edgerton from the University of California, Los Angeles, who has helped 20 paralysed people move their limbs again

As a first step, pending ethics approval, the team will aim to restore hand function in participants with quadriplegia.

The latest spinal cord stimulation study shows participants require less and less stimulation to achieve the same movements, suggesting the therapy sets a "cascade of repair events" to bring about recovery.

In addition, yet-to-be-published research by Dr Edgerton shows electrical stimulation can also be used to manage high blood pressure, which is an important finding because high blood pressure caused by dysreflexia is a leading cause of death among paralysed people.

Another exciting benefit, says Ms Howarth, is that neuromodulation has been shown to improve bladder and bowel function.

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