The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is both receiving praise and criticism for its handling of research related to the exciting new field of electric stimulation of the lower spine. These new techniques promise to give paralysed patients the ability to walk again.
The most intensive multi-patient study to date – conducted by Professor Susan Harkema of the University of Louisville, Kentucky — is currently concluding and the medical community is carefully eyeing its results. But recent interviews indicate frustration among biomedical engineers crafting the next generation of stimulation devices. They feel that the FDA’s restrictions are making it difficult to apply bleeding edge electronics to this pressing problem.