The spinal stimulator aims to create new transmission routes to the brain
A man who was paralysed in an accident has been able to regain the use of his hands after being the first to test a new revolutionary piece of spinal technology.
28-year-old Brian Gomez broke his neck in a dirt-biking accident five years ago, which left him unable to use his limbs.
In a scientific first, doctors at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre inserted a 32-electrode stimulator in the back of Brian’s neck with the aim of restoring movement in his arms. The device encourages the electric signals transmitted through the spinal cord to bypass damaged tissues and find new ways to transmit messages to the brain.
The trial also involved the implant of a small battery pack and processing unit linked to a remote control to help doctors monitor the frequency and intensity of the stimulation.
Since the implantation Brian has had regular rehabilitation support, which has tripled the strength and flexibility in his hands and allowed him to perform tasks such as drink a cup of coffee and use machinery.
Samantha Hemsley, national head of the serious injury and clinical negligence team at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This new device has had a positive benefit for Brian and we hope that it will continue to aid him in his rehabilitation.
“Over the past year we’ve heard of many advances in the role technology can play in the rehabilitation of spinal injury victims. The key for our clients who have lost the use of their limbs will be these experiments becoming everyday reality for them as soon as possible.
“Until this and other similar devices are available, we will continue to work closely with our affiliated charities and support groups to ensure that our spinal injury clients receive the best guidance on how to adapt their lives so they can live a full life.”
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