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Device to help stroke patients

Patients paralysed by a stroke have regained temporary movement in their arms and hands, thanks to an innovative electrical device.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, both Pennsylvania, USA, tested a technology that stimulates the spinal cord which enabled one patient – Heather Rendulic, who could not move one arm – to cut and eat a steak on her own after nine years (pictured). See also the BBC World News video.

The research (see Nature Medicine), that led to this breakthrough, involved studies in animals such as rats and monkeys to investigate how to repair spinal cord injuries.

It was found that damaged neurons in the spinal cord could be reactivated using electricity to help treat paralysis and provide new treatments.

Dr Marco Capogrosso, at Pittsburgh, said: 'Thanks to years of preclinical research building up to this point, we have developed a practical, easy-to-use stimulation protocol… that could be easily translated to the hospital and quickly moved from the lab to the clinic.'



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