A new study has found that spinal cord stimulation can help stroke survivors regain arm movement more quickly than traditional therapy alone. The study, which was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, suggests that spinal cord stimulation could be a valuable addition to stroke rehabilitation programs.
The study involved 10 patients who had experienced a stroke at least six months prior to the study. All of the participants had limited arm movement due to damage to the brain’s motor cortex.
Half of the participants received traditional physical therapy for four weeks, while the other half received both physical therapy and spinal cord stimulation. During this, a device was implanted into the participants’ spinal cords and used to deliver electrical impulses to the affected nerves.
After four weeks of therapy, the participants who received spinal cord stimulation showed significantly greater improvements in arm movement than those who received only physical therapy. Specifically, they were able to complete tasks such as reaching for objects, picking up small items, and holding a cup.
What does the study show?
The researchers noted that the improvements in arm movement were seen much more quickly in the participants who received spinal cord stimulation. While both groups of participants showed improvement over the four-week period, those who received showed significant gains within the first two weeks.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Andre Machado, commented on the findings, saying, “These results suggest that spinal cord stimulation may be a promising new approach to improving arm movement after stroke. This is particularly important because the ability to use one’s arms is crucial for many everyday activities, such as dressing, cooking, and bathing.”
The study’s findings are particularly significant because there are currently few effective treatments for stroke survivors who experience limited arm movement. While physical therapy can be helpful, it often takes a long time for patients to see significant improvements.
How effective can spinal cord stimulation be?
Spinal cord stimulation could offer a faster, more effective alternative. The technique has been used for many years to treat chronic pain, but this study is one of the first to explore its potential for stroke rehabilitation.
The researchers note that more studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation for stroke survivors. They also emphasize that the technique should be used in combination with traditional therapy, rather than as a replacement.
Nevertheless, the study’s findings are an encouraging sign for stroke survivors who are struggling with limited arm movement. The spinal cord could offer a valuable new tool for rehabilitation, helping patients regain independence and improve their quality of life.