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Medical Moment: spinal cord injury treatment

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST
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About 50,000 spinal cord neurostimulators are implanted each year.

These devices use several wires to send low levels of electricity to the spinal cord to relieve pain. Now, a group of researchers is testing a way to deliver those signals without any wires.

One implant can power multiple biostimulators from a single transmitter outside the body, allowing devices such as spinal cord stimulators to wirelessly send signals to relieve pain.

Currently, spinal cord stimulators are connected to the stimulation point by electronic wires. Implanting these wires can be challenging.

“If you’ve ever done a renovation in your house, you have to rip apart your walls if I want to run cables around,” says one doctor.

Now imagine doing that with your spine. But without the wires, the incision to place the implant is much smaller and less invasive.

Researchers also said this implant may one day be used for pacemakers. The implant can be positioned at different parts of the cardiac chambers and controlled by a transmitter outside the body. The scientists say they are a few years away from human clinical trials on the technology.

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