Inspenet, November 10, 2023.
Marc Gauthier, 62, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 30 years ago. Initially, he experienced difficulties in coordination, tremors, and muscle stiffness, but over time, he lost mobility in much of his body.
“ I couldn’t walk without falling ,” explained the Frenchman who has now walked again. “It has changed my life because now I am independent and I can leave the house, do errands. I even go on foot”, he said.
“ At first I didn’t think I could feel an immediate effect, but as soon as they implanted the neuroprosthesis I felt the improvement ,” said the pilot participant of the project.
Gauthier has become the first patient to receive a neural prosthesis composed of electrodes placed on the spinal cord, connected directly to a neurostimulator that generates electrical impulses. This device is implanted under the skin in the abdomen and Gauthier can turn the mechanism that activates the muscles in his legs on and off using a remote control.
This prosthesis was developed by neuroscientists at the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland and has been shown to be capable of allowing patients with Parkinson’s in advanced stages to regain the ability to walk normally.
Unlike paraplegia, in Parkinson’s the brain can send movement instructions to the legs through the spinal cord, but this transmission is affected or weakened.
“The idea in the long run is that this treatment will be available to any patient with Parkinson’s, as is treatment using deep brain stimulation to control the tremors and rigidity caused by this disease.”, commented the professor of Neuroscience at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) and co-director of NeuroRestore, Grégoire Courtine.
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