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Fighting palsy

September 22, 2003
Researchers of Hokkaido University in Japan presented a unique medical invention.

Brain hemorrhage is a dangerous disease. It often results in palsy after which people are often confined to bed. Not infrequently only one half of the body is paralyzed, which actually does not alter matters. Treatment is confined to massaging and moving the affected limbs, doing special exercises in attempt to restore the activity of the affected nerve chains.

Electric action stimulation of nerves has more prospects, but it is insufficient because the affected limbs have to learn to work anew.
Researchers of Hokkaido University in Japan presented a unique medical invention. It helps semi-paralyzed people restore the ability to walk normally. The method is based on electric stimulation by sending maximally coordinated pulses to nerve cells. This is possible because signals produced while moving the healthy limb are used as a system of control for sending stimulating electric pulses.
Sensors are attached to certain points of the healthy leg. They fix the energy generated by the contracting muscles. The signals produced by the sensors are transformed into electric pulses and transmitted to the nerve cells of the paralyzed limb via implanted electrodes thereby causing automatic movement of the leg. In addition, after computer processing, the signal sequence may be shifted in phase so that the limbs move in turn and not simultaneously. The patient can walk independently. A double effect is achieved stimulation of nerve cells and “tuning”, coordination of their work while performing usual movements.
According to the designers, practical application of the novelty will be possible in about 5 years. During this period, the experts are planning to make it maximally compact, in particular, to get rid of wires.


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Authors: Nikolay Shpakovsky, Elena Novitskaya