Paralysis is a common problem for thousands of people around the world. Caused by a number of different medical conditions or as the result of various accidents, it greatly reduces a person’s quality of life and can make even the simplest tasks an ordeal. Even worse, modern medicine has yielded few therapies that can restore a patient’s mobility. However, a team of European researchers may have created a solution: a new medical device that has successfully allowed paralyzed rats to walk.
Called e-Dura implants, the device is a thin, prosthetic ribbon embedded with electrodes. This ribbon is implanted along the spinal cord, where it delivers electrical impulses and drugs. Because the device is soft, it can move and bend with the body without causing the patient discomfort. Additionally, because the ribbon mimics the natural function of the spinal cord, it is unlikely to be rejected by the body. The researchers have also predicted that the device could go as long as 10 years without needing to be replaced, making it a potential long-term treatment for paralysis.
Currently, the research team hopes to begin clinical trials in humans within the next few years. Before this testing can begin, however, the e-Dura implant will need to be approved by national and international health organizations to prove its worth and safety. Moreover, if the device is cleared to treat paralysis, it will likely have to undergo various quality assurance and safety tests to ensure that each product can be used to help patients. Many medical devices, for example, accomplish this by using leak testing procedures to ensure medication will be delivered properly and safely. Leak detection services are also often used to ensure medical devices meet sterility standards once they are packaged. Because the e-Dura implant will be implanted in patient’s bodies, deliver medication, and likely used as a treatment method around the world, it is possible that leak testing procedures and other quality assurance methods will be necessary for this product.
While this medical device is still a recent discovery, the research team is reportedly excited about the possibilities that lay before them. In an interview, one of the scientists stated that theirs was the first study to prove that a medical device could be used to help paralyzed subjects regain movement. They also suggested that their findings could be used to create other therapies to treat neurological trauma, various disorders, and spinal cord trauma. Good references here. For more information see this.