Trial shows early impact for spinal injury patients

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Austin Health have seen early success while trialling a new method to recover hand and arm movement for patients with spinal injuries.

Led by Professor Mary Galea, the team is evaluating whether a non-invasive procedure called transcutaneous electrical spinal cord neuromodulation (TESCoN) is safe and effective. TESCoN targets spinal cord pathways that have been spared from injury with an electric current to help patients regain ‘dormant’ movements in their arms and hands.

In the first week of the trial the method has already enabled some movement for the first trial participant, who lives with paralysis below the shoulders due to a surfing accident 25 years ago. The recorded improvements, including the ability to straighten the elbow and reach forward, have provided renewed hope for spinal injury patients.

Over the next five years, the study will recruit 80 participants who will each undergo a combined treatment of TESCoN and intensive rehabilitation over the course of a month.

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