Spine Implant Helps Parkinson’s Patient to Walk Again
The road to recovery begins with taking that first brave step, and for Marc Gauthier, it took two decades of research and learning to live with Parkinson’s disease before he could take his first few steps unassisted.
The 63-year-old patient feels like he has been “reborn” after he was fitted with a neuroprosthetic device in his lower back, which has enabled him to walk approximately six kilometres every Sunday without falling over multiple times or his legs suddenly freezing up – two symptoms that were a common occurrence in Gauthier’s life, as his disease caused uncontrolled movements and trouble with co-ordination.
Scientists from the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland created the device with the goal of correcting the abnormal neuron signals that travelled along the spine and affected leg movement.
Jocelyne Bloch, the study’s co-lead, commented that by electrically stimulating the spinal cord in specific areas, it produced “impressive” results.
Gauthier says the neurodegenerative disorder made him “afraid” of using the stairs, but now the implant has removed that fear.
Even though the full efficiency of the brain-machine interface is still being clinically tested, it offers hope for ten million people across the world who struggle with Parkinson’s.