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With groundbreaking technology, epidural stimulation has widened up the spectrum for countless possibilities for people who have given up the hope for voluntary control of limbs and spinal injuries. It is a breakthrough next-generation treatment option that is FDA approved for trials, and has given commendable results in improving the following symptoms:

  • Ability to stand by your own
  • Ability to make movements
  • Ability to control limbs voluntarily
  • Greater bladder and bowel control
  • Experiencing enhanced sensations
  • Significant relief from neuropathic pain
  • Improvement in overall quality of life
  • Betterment in sexual functions
  • Progress in temperature controlling
  • Decreases the series of incontinence

Well, after learning about its benefits we know how curious you are to know about what exactly is epidural stimulation and most importantly how does it work? We hear you and this blog is all about it.

What is Epidural stimulation? How does it work?

Epidural stimulation is a form of rehabilitation therapy used in patients suffering from paralysis and inability in making any movements. In this process, electrical currents are continuously administered to lower spinal cord. In this procedure, an electrode stimulator is implanted over the dura (connective tissues) of the spinal cord in a surgical procedure.

How is the surgery done?

This surgery is a minimally invasive procedure and takes only few hours to implant the device into the patient. Moreover, if no wound infection is observed than the rehabilitation start in few days. The device can stay permanently in the spine, and it can be safely replaced when necessary.  A person may be eligible for this technique only when other therapies have failed. Neurosurgeons along with specialised doctors in spine implants can perform this surgery.

What does Electrode Stimulator do?

The electrode sends electrical currents which result in muscle contractions. As a result, it helps in moving the targeted groups of muscles. This implanted device in conjunction with spinal cord stimulator surgery drastically helps in reactivating the existing neural networks present in the spinal cord which further helps in transmitting signals from the brain to spinal cord and consequently, it will cause movements needed for standing as well as taking steps i.e. walking.

How is signal transmitted?

Earlier the brain couldn't transmit the signal back to the spinal cord due to damage in the spinal cord. A small remote about the size of a smartphone is used to control the intensity and frequency of the electrical current that will be given. It is of great relief to paralysed people who have lost the voluntary movements of the body. Therefore, when the stimulator is kept on, it helps in restoring the lost movements when combined with intensive training. Thus, a paralysed person can move their legs or limbs with the application of epidural stimulation.

Complications of Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury

Although, epidural stimulation is a revolutionary technique incorporated to combat many spinal cord injuries and diseases. Still, as a mode of medical surgery, it has the baggage of risks too. Though, the risk is present in a few rare cases and compared with other techniques of surgery the complications are quite less. While planning to undertake epidural stimulation you should be aware of everything and therefore, we have listed below some of the complications that may occur. It is important to remember that all complications relate to the implantation of the device and its long term consequences:-

  • Injury in nerve
  • Epidural Fibrosis and abscess
  • Postdural puncture headache caused by neuraxial anaesthesia
  • Development of seroma
  • Causing excessive bleeding which may lead to hematoma
  • Risk of wound infection
  • When the body doesn’t accept the programming
  • Current leakage
  • Failure of generator
  • A rare occurrence of neurological dysfunctional such as- needle penetration of the spinal cord, secondary to dural puncture, cord contusion.

Despite the potential risk associated with it, epidural stimulation proves to be more cost-effective than undertaking repeated back surgeries and prolonged pain therapies which yield temporary relief.

It has revolutionizes the health sector in aiding the patients who have been in immobile condition. It is a workable therapy which is a mix of electric current followed with intensive physical therapy that restored autonomic function in total paralysis patients.

Duration of the Therpay

The entire course of treatment is for 30-35 days that involves- device mapping, physical therapy, loco motor training, intensive care and rehabilitation treatments, medical treatments and lot more. In the initial 14 days, 24/7 nursing facility is available to the patient.

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