November 8, 2023

New surgical implant allows Parkinson’s patient to walk again

Editor's Note

A patient with Parkinson’s disease was able to walk normally again thanks to a surgical implant of an experimental spinal cord neuroprosthesis. The findings were published in the journal Nature on November 6 under the article title, "A spinal cord neuroprosthesis for locomotor deficits due to Parkinson’s disease." 

The patient is a 63-year-old father of two. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 36 and developed severe walking disorders that impeded his ability to work as an architect. The neuroprosthesis targets six areas of the spinal cord with electrical stimulation that are associated with walking.

The researchers implanted electrodes on the lower region of the patient’s spinal cord, targeting these six zones. These electrodes are linked to a neural stimulator under the skin in his abdominal region. That stimulator applies electrical stimulation to the spinal cord. After a few months of rehabilitation, he regained the ability to walk independently. 

The researchers are enthusiastic about the proof-of-concept but note that while this procedure appears to help symptoms and improve quality-of-life, it is not a cure and the disease will still progress and require additional treatment. 


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