Oct
20
2018

Leg Paralysis Can Be Treated

Several publications show that leg paralysis can be treated. This goes against the clinical experiences throughout the world. The common school of thought was that spinal cord injuries from a severe accident would lead to permanent damage. New research has proven that this is not so.

The publication to show that leg paralysis can be treated

On Sept. 24, 2018 the New England Journal of Medicine reported about several cases where completely paralyzed people were able to walk again with the help of a walker. A surgeon implanted a spinal cord stimulation device was under the skin of the abdominal wall. From there electrodes were going under the skin into the lower lumbar spine and upper sacral area close to the spinal cord. This allowed the muscles of the lower body half to receive the same nerve impulses that the muscles above the injury received. With extensive physiotherapy treatments the body was able to relearn the muscle contractions of the legs and feet.

Relearning how to walk

The next step was to relearn the steps of walking. There was a group of 14 patients with spinal cord injuries who had implantation of a spinal cord stimulation device. They were eventually able to walk again with a walker. The walker was necessary to stabilize their gait. One male took a chance and did not use a walker. He fractured his hip after a fall. But eventually he was making a full recovery and is able to walk now with a walker.

Details of a case of full leg paralysis

Kelly Thomas was driving in a car and lost control. The car ended up at a tree, severely deformed. She was unconscious for several weeks and needed treatment in the hospital. She was 19 and paralyzed from the chest down. Kelly is 24 now and she is able to walk again with the help of a walker. A surgeon had implanted a stimulation device in her abdominal wall with electrodes going to her lower back. The stimulator is passing on the signals coming down from the healthy spine. Electrical signals from the healthy spinal cord make their way to below the severed spinal cord. This though was only the first step.

The second step, a lengthy physiotherapy program

The second step was a lengthy physiotherapy program. All of the previous memories of learning to walk as a child are no longer there in a paralyzed person. The body has to relearn muscle contractions, coordination of muscles, moving of a foot or lower leg. Then all of these sub movements have to blend together into a smooth movement associated with walking. A walker helps to stabilize the gait. This link described more details regarding Kelly’s recovery and how hard she had to work on the physiotherapy part to finally achieve her walking. Leg paralysis can be treated.

Other studies showing people rising from wheelchairs

Here are two other studies that show how other people were able to rise from their wheelchairs.

2015 study

A 2015 study explains how the researchers were able to make one patient walk again. They used a recording of the brain currents (EEG) and pass that information on to below the spinal cord injury. This involved a lengthy learning procedure followed by many physiotherapy treatments. In the beginning it was important to have the patient suspended from the ceiling to prevent falls. Subsequently the patient could walk unsuspended.

2016 study

In a 2016 study eight patients were treated with the system described in the previous paper. Brain-machine interfaces recorded and transmitted the electrical brain activity to below the spinal cord injury. An intense 12-month physiotherapy program enabled the patient to regain her capability to walk. Only 50% of the participants were able to complete walking. There were some drawbacks of this procedure. Thoughts were interfering with brain wave recording. Also, a lack of focusing on the walking process could make it impossible for the person to walk.

Discussion re. leg paralysis can be treated

Walking again after a spinal paralysis is the dream of 1.275 million people with paralysis in the US.  Since these recent scientific findings one can truly say “leg paralysis can be treated”. There are about 8000 that would like to participate in a program, which Kelly Thomas has successfully completed. Her procedure seems to be the scientifically more robust program, although it is invasive considering that a surgeon has to implant the spinal cord stimulation device. The implanted device funnels the brain signals from above the severed spinal cord to below the injured cord. From there the electrical signals travel via the regular nerves into the muscles of the lower extremities. Extensive work with a physiotherapist is still necessary to complete the ability to walk again. For tissue defects, extracellular matrix treatment helps. For leg paralysis think spinal cord stimulation device implantation and physiotherapy treatments.

Leg Paralysis Can Be Treated

Leg Paralysis Can Be Treated

Conclusion

Lately great strides forward made it possible to help help people with paralysis enabling them to walk again. The most promising system is the one involving Kelly Thomas presented here. Briefly, following a serious car injury with a spinal cord crushing injury she received a spinal cord stimulation device. The stimulation device sends the electrical encoded muscle commands to below the scar of the spinal cord injury. The electrical impulses from above the spinal cord scar transmit smoothly to below the scar. The body does the rest.

Lots of physiotherapy

But the body needs a lot of coaxing to relearn the old body movements that connect with walking. A lot of that knowledge receded into the background following the spinal cord injury. However, extensive and prolonged physiotherapy treatments can achieve this. The Spinal Cord Injury Research Centers throughout the US have done a tremendous job researching this area. This resulted in new ways how to make paraplegic people walk again.

Feb
27
2013

Joint Replacement For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Will Become Obsolete

Osteoarthritis of the knee joints is one of the most common forms of arthritis of the aging person. Often the patient starts feeling pain when walking for a long time or when climbing stairs, more so when walking down. Eventually there is swelling of the knees, pain and inflammation (the affected knee feels hot). When the condition deteriorates over a period of 5 to 10 years, the patient notices a decrease in range of motion in the joint and it may affect the gait as the patient favors one knee. The physician or physical therapist may suggest the use of a cane. Later the patient may need a walker to get around.

In the following I will describe two possible ways of treating this condition in the end stage followed by unconventional ways of treating osteoarthritis to hopefully prevent disabilities.

The conventional treatment of osteoarthritis (total knee replacement)

The typical way of treating knee osteoarthritis in an early case is to order physical therapy treatments and to give anti-inflammatory medication to treat the swelling and pain. Anti-inflammatory medicine with NSAIDs is not harmless as it can lead to severe gastric bleeding from gastric erosions. On the longer term it can cause kidney damage with kidney failure, possibly requiring dialysis. In a moderate case an orthopedic surgeon may inject hyaluronic acid and steroids, which may give relief for up to 6 or 9 months. Eventually the pain and the restriction with regard to the range of motion become so severe that the orthopedic surgeon recommends a total knee replacement. This can be quite successful with respect to relieving most of the pain, but often it is less than 100% satisfactory with regard of regaining range of motion.

Osteoarthritis Of Knee With Degenerative Joint Changes

Osteoarthritis Of Knee With Narrowed Cartilage

The new way of treating osteoarthritis (mesenchymal stem cell transplant):

In a case publication from Korea an alternative new treatment for osteoarthritis has been published with two typical cases described, both Korean women, one aged 70, the other  one aged 79. Both were assessed by orthopedic surgeons and found to be severe enough to qualify for total knee replacements. However,  both declined, as they were afraid of the risks associated with surgery. Instead both patients received mesenchymal stem cells transplants derived from their abdominal fat by liposuction.  The transplant was done by injections into their knees using a small needle on several occasions weeks apart. This is known as a transplant with autologous adipose-tissue-derived stem cells. Within only 12 weeks from the date of the stem cell treatment the patients noticed a 90% improvement of the pain, and similar progress with regard to increase in range of motion was noted. MRI scans were done just before the stem cell treatment and again 12 weeks after the treatment. Here is the MRI image of the 79 year-old woman’s knee before and 12 weeks after her procedure.

According to the authors of this publication these cases were new reports on human subjects compared to previously successful reports with animal experiments. They felt that more human trials would be required, to show on a larger scale that end stage osteoarthritis can be treated successfully with tissue stem cells taken from the patient’s own abdominal fat.

Alternative treatment for osteoarthritis

In Europe there was a lot of interest in the 1980’s in the use of glycosaminoglycan polysulfate (which was sold as “Arteparon”). It was derived from hyaline cartilage of calf knee joints.

It was available as an injectable medicine and produced by the Luitpold Pharmaceutical company. Only a two or three injections into an affected joint would be needed to cure about 70% to 80% of patients with osteoarthritis. Later it was shown that simple intramuscular injection rather than specific joint injection had the identical cuarative effect for osteoarthritis. One injection was only about 3$ to 5$. However, in 1991 the Munich company in Germany was sold to a Japanese pharmaceutical firm and Arteparon was no longer produced, so it was only known in Europe, as it never made it to the US market. Since then Synvisc came onto the market in the US in the early 2000’s. Now one injection was 150$ (!). However, a randomized study showed that Synvisc is only about 15 to 20% more effective than placebo after three to five injections (450$ to 750$).

However, the word was out that there are non-toxic substances that are part of the natural cartilage which would be useful in treating osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined in supplements for osteoarthritis and you can get this in the health food store. The American Family Physician reported about non-conventional supplements for osteoarthritis in its January 2008 edition.

Perhaps equally important to this is to approach osteoarthritis from the nutritional angle, namely in terms of cutting out refined sugar and starches. It has been observed that osteoarthritis develops mostly in the industrialized countries where sugar consumption is the highest. Not so on the islands of Okinawa. Recently a study showed that sugar from soft drink consumption contributes to worsening osteoarthritis, especially in men. It follows from this that your food intake should be modified to provide optimal nutrients for healthy joint maintenance. Read this article, which describes in detail what you should eat to reverse osteoarthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also useful, but higher doses are required for arthritis reversal than are required for healthy heart maintenance.  About 2.7 Grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per day are required, such as two to three capsules of high quality molecularly distilled fish oil capsules three times per day. This will help  balance the overload from omega-6 fatty acids in processed foods.

Another approach to help with joint pains from osteoarthritis is through chicken cartilage. It appears that with the initial degenerative changes of joint cartilage with osteoarthritis, collagen is exposed to the immune system, which responds with the production of T killer cells, which attack the joint cartilage. Research has shown that a tolerance state of the immune system is created when you take chicken cartilage (either fikzol type II or UC-II) for only 90 days. The body tolerates the chicken cartilage supplement and the joint surfaces recover from the prior degenerative changes.

Finally, studies regarding DMSO and MSM(methylsulfonylmethane) are not very conclusive, except perhaps for one study on knee osteoarthritis as this link shows.

By nutritional intervention (cutting out refined sugar and refined carbohydrates) and following what was summarized under point 3 above, many people with minor osteoarthritis may not progress further to the end stage where either procedure 1 or 2 above would have to be done.

This is an example of how medicine is moving forward. The technique has been developed for osteoarthritis and also for osteonecrosis of the hip joint as described in the same publication. In the past laparoscopic procedures have replaced older, more invasive surgical procedures with better results and less complications. In a similar vein these newer stem cell transfer procedures can replace, at least partially the more invasive total joint replacements with less dangers to the patient. Should a mesenchymal stem cell transplant not be successful, the patient can still return to a conventional total knee or total hip joint replacement.

More information on osteoarthritis: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/osteoarthritis/

Here is a limited selection regarding  regenerative or restorative centers in the US (I have no financial interest or other bias with respect to any of these treatment centers):

http://www.regenexx.com/about-regenexx/doctor-christopher-j-centeno-md/

http://www.the-stem-cell-center.com/

http://www.stemcellrevolution.com/

http://tulane.edu/som/regenmed/

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

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