Physical Therapy Solutions—Today Rats! Tomorrow Humans

Scientists writing in the journal SCIENCE recently reported that rats with a spinal cord injury leaving their hind legs paralyzed relearned walking on their own after an intensive training course which included electrical stimulation of the brain and the spine.
About to begin working on technology that will allow the same progress in humans the scientists state that what they accomplished was  the most comprehensive and rigorous study to date of what is possible in recovering from such injuries.
Few scientists ever thought that it would be possible to complete rehabilitation after such a disabling blow to the spinal cord. After weeks of training, many of the rats could walk as well as before the injury, and some could even run.
It is important to not that the findings do not apply to all spinal injuries. The rats’ spinal columns were cut but were not completely severed. There were still  nerve connections that extended intact through the injured area.
The study which was led by Gregoire Courtine of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology performed the same surgical injury on 10 rats.  All direct nerve connections to the hind legs were cut but stopped short of severing the spinal cord. The rats lost the use of their back legs but not their front legs.
The rats then were given a daily regimen. They were outfitted with tiny vests, held upright on their back legs but left to bear their full weight. The rats then tried to move toward a piece of cheese that was nearby. The scientists then provided electrical stimulation in 3 places: in the motor area of the brain,  in the spinal cord below the injury, and chemically, in the wound area with drugs thought to promote growth.
Growth is what was achieved. After 2 to 3 weeks of 30-minute daily sessions, the rats started to take their first voluntary steps. After six weeks, all of the rats  walked on their own, and some  ran and climbed stairs. A control group of rats did not recover  as well.
Wow! That’s exciting news. Now, until this is perfected patients will have to do with other tupes of physical therapy solutions such as the TUTOR system.
The LEGTUTOR and its sister devices (HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR and 3DTUTOR) have been used in physiotherapy and occupational therapy to treat victims of Spinal Column Injury and MS for some time now.
 The TUTOR system is used in an inpatient, outpatient and home rehabilitation environment  as an aid in order to achieve the patient’s functional ability goal as much as possible.
 It is designed for those who have head, trunk, upper and lower extremity movement dysfunction as a result of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, CP or post arm and leg surgery in addition to brain and spinal cord injury.
The TUTOR system consists of ergonomic wearable devices together with powerful dedicated rehabilitation software. The LEGTUTOR and its sister devices (HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR and 3DTUTOR) works by offering the patient intensive exercise practice based on motivating and challenging games that allow the patient to practice isolated and/or interjoint coordination exercises. Controlled exercise practice is the mainstay of physiotherapists and physical and occupational therapists manual therapy method. Manual therapy using the Tutor system will help to prevent the development of compensatory movement patterns. The dedicated software allows the therapist to fully customize the exercises to the patient’s movement ability whether the patient has good range of motion or limited movement ability. In addition the therapist can objectively and quantitatively evaluate and report on the treatment progress. This can be presented to the patient to encourage his continued participation in exercises.  The physical therapy solution using the TUTOR system optimizes the patient’s motor, sensory and cognitive performance and allows him to better perform everyday functional tasks and to improve his quality of life. The TUTOR system is FDA and CE certified and can be used with telerehabilitation as well. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.
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