Mind Control

iStock-124870447Imagine becoming a quadriplegic. Most people consider such possibilities with horror, and it's no wonder so many in this condition also become depressed.  Now enter hope, in a study Rick and I discuss on PodMed this week and published in the Lancet. The paper reports a single case study of an individual who, over the course of two years, regained quite a lot of function in one limb, and can now eat, drink coffee, and even scratch his own nose with impressive accuracy and reproducibility.  How did this happen?

The patient reported in this study had a bike accident, experiencing a high cervical (neck) spinal cord injury and subsequent tetraplegia, which this paper has educated me is another word for quadriplegia. At the time of recruitment to the study he was 53 years old. After rather extensive study, the team of researchers mapped areas of his brain involved in volitional movements of his right hand, and upper and lower arm, after which electrodes to stimulate those areas were implanted. Training with a computer and prosthetic arm, followed by subsequent implantation of electrodes and training of his paralyzed arm, have resulted in the outcome described. Easy for me to write in a few sentences but having taken two years to bring to fruition!  But what an outcome, and source of hope for others experiencing sudden accidents that leave them paralyzed. Kudos, we say, and look forward to further research to advance such efforts.

Other topics this week include Health and Public Policy to Facilitate Effective Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Involving Illicit and Prescription Drugs in Annals of Internal Medicine, Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffolds in Routine PCI in NEJM, and Impact of total knee replacement practice in the BMJ. Until next week, y'all live well.

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