On Friday, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has released details of research that is hoped may provide a cure for paralysis. This advanced technology involves an implant being fitted to the spine, providing chemical and electrical stimulus to the damaged parts of the spine.
Over the last decade there have been tremendous advances in medicine available to treat all kinds of serious injury, however spinal cord injuries have proved much more difficult to improve.
Clarke Willmott’s serious injury team has a wealth of experience in understanding and obtaining funding for state-of-the-art rehabilitation for its serious injury clients. Today there exists a wealth of technology and treatment to assist sufferers of brain injury gain independence and social interaction, through products such as specialist computer programmes or adaptations for the home for example. More advanced brain imaging is also allowing us to understand the brain in much more detail than ever before, helping doctors to understand the injuries that they are treating. Skin graft technology has also reached a point where even the most disfigured of victims are able to undergo a quality of skin graft that just 10 years ago would not have been possible.
Advances in technology to treat paralysis have previously failed, as rigid devices have only ever been used as an implant to the spine. This causes inflammation and other damage to the surrounding areas and in fact inhibits movement due to the inflexibility of the material. These devices have also had limited lifespans, making them impractical for use.
EPFL has developed a flexible implant that flexes with the body to allow for movement and could last for months. Made from elastic silicone, it is hoped that this will avoid the inflammation and damage caused by the previously trialled plastic implants and with improvements in longevity, could prove a viable treatment.
As with all breakthroughs in medical technology, it will be some time before a trial on humans will be possible. This technology involves brand new material requiring approval that it is safe to use. Tests to date have only been carried out on rats.
It can only hope that this is the start of the path to recovery and independence for sufferers of paralysis worldwide.
If you or someone you know suffers from paralysis or any other serious injury as a result of an accident, contact Clarke Willmott’s specialist team of Personal Injury lawyers.