After a spinal cord injury, the communication between the brain and the muscles in the arms and/or legs is disturbed. This can result in impaired or paralyzed limbs. The injury can also affect the bladder, bowel, sexual function, sleep and many other body functions.
For the past 15 years, Professor Grégoire Courtine and the team that is working with him at the EPFL – a world-leading engineering school in Switzerland – have studied recovery mechanisms after spinal cord injury and developed technologies to improve this recovery.
They demonstrated that targeted stimulation of the spinal cord during rehabilitation can help to reconnect the brain with paralyzed muscles in people with an incomplete injury. The first few participants who completed an early clinical study are now able to control their paralyzed leg muscles again, even without stimulation.
GTX medical is collaborating with Prof. Courtine and the team he is working with to turn his findings into a therapy for people with spinal cord injury. The therapy consists of a paddle lead that is surgically implanted on the spinal cord at the region that controls leg movements. The lead is connected to a neurostimulator – a small pacemaker for the spinal cord – that is also implanted via a small incision. This procedure is practiced routinely in people with chronic pain.