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Home » Treatment » Spinal Cord Injury-Epidural Stimulation

Spinal Cord Injury-Epidural Stimulation

Epidural Stimulation for spinal cord injury (SCI), involves the surgical implantation of a neurostimulator device. This has gained popularity in recent times with SCI survivors and researchers alike.

Epidural Stimulation, have become the most advanced treatment for empowering patients who have lost voluntary control of their limbs. These patients must have endured many other demoralizing spine-injury symptoms. This process is being approved by the FDA for trials, but has been made available commercially.

This process of rehabilitative training implements electrical currents on the lower spinal cord to stimulate the nerves directly by bypassing the traditional brain-to-spinal-cord pathways. It is a form of functional electrical stimulation (FES), although FES is an above-the-skin approach. This approach uses electrodes on top of the skin to aim voltage at the muscles below it.

What is Epidural Electrical Stimulation and It workings

This technique to treat medical conditions by using electrical current has been in practice tracing back to thousands of years.

Epidural stimulation for spinal cord injury works by implanting an epidural electrical stimulating electrode into the epidural space that is by the backside of the bones of your vertebral spine. This procedure means that the electrode array is inserted in the gap space on top of your dura just outside of the spinal cord.

To move the targeted groups of muscles, the electrode is used to send electrical currents to cause muscle contractions. Sometimes it happens that after a spinal cord injury, the neurons and axons throughout the body are still in good condition. However, our brain is not able to transmit signals to and from them because of the damage to the spinal cord.

Through spinal cord stimulator surgery, the implant device helps to reactivate and use remaining intact neural networks within the spinal cord. This helps to direct the movements required to stand and take steps.

What are the Complications of Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury

Though epidural stimulation has shown great incredible promise for people with spinal cord injuries, but as it with many types of procedures, it comes with its own set of potential risks. The complications are concerning with the long term use of epidural stimulation. However, when you consider undergoing repeat back surgery, epidural stimulation is significantly less risky. The Procedure is less risky and more effective and cost-effective than chronic pain therapies.

Some of the complications arising in implanting an SCS system may include:

  • Nerve injury
  • Epidural Fibrosis
  • Epidural abscess
  • Postdural puncture headache
  • Seroma
  • Hematoma
  • Pain at generator
  • Wound infection
  • Unacceptable programming
  • Lead migration
  • Current leak
  • Generator failure

Results of Epidural Stimulation to Help Spinal Cord Injuries

As the technology is still in research phase, the medical providers say that epidural stimulation for spinal cord injury is not a “cure” for spinal cord injuries. But with recent advancements in spinal cord surgeries, researchers have taken a step forward in the evolution of understanding of what a spinal cord injury and related treatments entail.

Why Pursue Epidural Stimulation

Epidural electrical stimulation, particularly FES, has shown excellent promise in helping some patients regain some abilities. The patients who have undergone FES therapy have shown improvements in hand function, improved core control, bladder and bowel control, and even the ability to breathe without the use of a ventilator.

After surgery and during extensive rehabilitation, the spine specialists will help you regain your quality of life. With epidural stimulation, you will be able to perform functions such as standing and stepping, more muscle mass and stamina, less fatigue and pain, enhanced motor skills, and better control over bladder and bowel.

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