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Signal boosting implant allows patients with Parkinson's to walk

Published on 23/04/19 at 10:14am

Patients with Parkinson’s have been able to walk after receiving electrical stimulation to their spines.

A new treatment, developed by researchers in Canada, has helped restore movement in patients with chronic Parkinson’s disease by boosting electrical signals from their brains.

Furthermore, the implant, developed by Professor Mandar Jog, from Western University in London, Ontario, was able to restore electrical feedback mechanisms, meaning that in the longer term, the treatment worked, even when the implant was turned off.

“Most of our patients have had the disease for 15 years and have not walked with any confidence for several years,” Jog said. “For them to go from being home-bound, with the risk of falling, to being able to go on trips to the mall and have vacations is remarkable for me to see.”

Professor Jog believes Parkinson’s reduces the strength of signals from the body to the brain. Over time these connections weaken as the loop is broken.

However the signal booster reawakens and strengthens the feedback mechanism, which allows the brain and body to communicate.

“This is a completely different rehabilitation therapy,” Jog said. “We had thought that the movement problems occurred in Parkinson's patients because signals from the brain to the legs were not getting through. But it seems that it's the signals getting back to the brain that are degraded.”

Louis Goss

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