DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: UK patients may soon get ‘miracle implant’ to walk again

A few days ago, I was amazed to watch a video of a man paralyzed from the waist down going for a walk outside.

Using a frame for support, he was able to move on his own thanks to an electrical device surgically implanted in his spine.

The patient, a 29-year-old Italian named Michel Roccati, had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in 2017, but thanks to the work of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, he was now able to walk, using a computer tablet connected wirelessly. . to the implant to stimulate the nerve cells – neurons – in his spinal cord.

“The first few steps were incredible – a dream come true!” he said. “I’ve been training quite intensively over the past few months and I’ve set myself some goals.

Using a support frame, he was able to move on his own thanks to an electrical device surgically implanted in his spine

Using a support frame, he was able to move on his own thanks to an electrical device surgically implanted in his spine

Using a support frame, he was able to move on his own thanks to an electrical device surgically implanted in his spine

“For example, I can now go up and down stairs and hope to be able to walk a mile this spring.”

This “medical miracle” is the culmination of research into implants originally developed more than 30 years ago to block pain signals traveling through the spine. In fact, on the NHS, this treatment is offered to chronic pain patients who have tried other approaches.

More recently, researchers around the world began to wonder if these implants could be modified so that they didn’t block nerve messages, but rather stimulated them, to help patients with a broken spinal cord get moving again.

A few years ago I did a TV series where we looked at groundbreaking spinal stimulation work that was done at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The patient was a 26-year-old Texan named Kent, who, like Michel, had broken his back in a motorcycle accident and was completely paralyzed below the chest.

A team, led by Dr. Susan Harkema of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, had a device implanted in his spine just below the injury. I had assumed that once the spinal cord is fractured, the nerves beneath the fracture would gradually wither away.

So it was amazing to see how much of a difference the implant made. By stimulating the remaining nerves, they had made them more excitable and receptive to the vague messages still coming from the brain.

It gave Kent back control of his bowels and bladder, and also meant he could stand unaided and even move his legs. Now two Swiss neuroscientists, Grégoire Courtine and Jocelyne Bloch, have taken this research a step further by developing larger implants that use artificial intelligence to ensure much more precise control over the neurons that control the leg muscles.

They placed their specially designed implants on three patients (one of them Michel Roccati), all of whom had very serious spinal injuries, and within a day of their implants being activated, all three had died, says Dr. Courtine, ‘able to stand, walk, kick and swim.’

Within a few months, they were also able to participate in social activities, such as having a drink while standing at a bar.

This is very early days, but the company, Onward Medical, which is commercializing this research, tells me they are now planning larger trials, which will hopefully involve UK patients later this year.

I will follow future developments with great interest and hope to be able to bring you an update soon.

What is the right amount of sleep for a healthy brain? You might think more is better, but a study from the University of Oslo in Norway – based on brain scans – suggests you only need 6.8 hours on average. The researchers found that people with the largest hippocampus (the area of ​​the brain essential for memory) were among the shortest sleepers, averaging just 6.2 hours. That’s reassuring for people like me who struggle to get to the recommended 7-8 hours a night.

Do not panic! Vegetarian food IS really good for you

‘Eating lots of vegetables may NOT help prevent heart disease,’ was the surprising claim this week from researchers at the University of Oxford, who found that people who ate a lot of cooked vegetables were no better off than vegetable dodgers.

This is so against previous research that I looked to the research to find out more. First of all, it must be said that it was an impressively large study, involving nearly 400,000 volunteers from the UK Biobank, a huge research project that since 2006 has helped answer many important health questions.

In the new study, researchers analyzed food questionnaires these people completed at the start of the study and then tracked down what had happened to them 12 years later.

Besides eating lots of cooked vegetables didn’t seem to improve heart health, the analysis showed that while people who ate lots of raw vegetables were less likely to die of heart disease, it was largely due to other factors. such as income or lifestyle. So it wasn’t the raw vegetables that made the difference, but the fact that they were generally more affluent and health conscious.

But how do you explain these findings about cooked vegetables? Tom Sanders, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College, London, thinks this could be a case of ‘reverse causality’ – where ‘the group consuming the highest levels of vegetables were more likely to be given drugs for high cholesterol. in the blood’ and high blood pressure’. In other words, the “high veg group” included people who were already at higher risk for heart disease and who ate more vegetables in hopes of preventing a heart attack. If so, it’s not surprising that they showed little benefit.

And while the study showed no heart benefits, those who ate the most vegetables had the lowest risk of dying prematurely from any cause — possibly because eating vegetables protects against diseases like cancer.

We know that vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber, which are good for our overall health and our gut bacteria.

So I happily go on with almost all the vegetables on my plate, except Brussels sprouts.

What makes some people more attractive than others? This was the subject of a series I did with John Cleese and Liz Hurley.

Some researchers suggested it’s about having more symmetrical features, which in turn is a reflection of how healthy you are; others thought it had more to do with the strength of the other’s immune system, which we can apparently detect unconsciously.

Support for that theory comes from a recent US study, in which young adults had blood tests and photos of them rated for attractiveness. See, the ones considered more attractive also had the healthiest immune systems. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as mating with them would likely produce healthier offspring.

People looking for love may want to update their dating profile with “I have a lot of natural killer cells.”

Source: | This article is originally from Dailymail.co.uk

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