A quadriplegic man who is taking part in a study at the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center is now able to stand for two hours a day, while keeping a healthy blood pressure.
Matt Wetherbee, 31, became quadriplegic after a basketball accident.
“Once I was two years post injury I was accepted into the research study here. I was ecstatic about it and ready to try something new,” Wetherbee told Whas11.com.
“Prior [to the treatment], I used to have a lot of muscle spasms, a lot of tightness, which is common with a high-level spinal cord injury, and it can be very uncomfortable a lot of nerve pain and when the stimulation is on, it takes a lot of that away,” he said.
He can now stand for two hours a day, with his blood pressure staying at a healthy range.
“Independently with my legs, and my trunk with only somebody spotting me at the hips for over an hour,” he explains.
“For somebody with a C3 level spinal cord injury who was on a ventilator for the first month afterwards wondering if I would have a trache in my neck for the rest of my life I mean that’s a huge change.”
The program involves an electrode array to be placed on their lower spine, followed by physical training.
“What we’ve noted from research is that all the centres, the circuitry for locomotion and standing is actually located in the lower spinal cord and that’s exactly the area that we target with the electrode,” said Claudia Angeli, who is a Senior Researcher at Frasier Institute, with The Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center and an assistant professor at the University.
This is only the last one in a series of breakthroughs at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.
Spinal Cure Australia’s CEO Duncan Wallace has labelled the result ‘outstanding’.
“As a quadriplegic myself I can attest to how life changing just the recovery of stable blood pressure would be,” said Mr Wallace.
“Coupled with reduced neuropathic pain and spasm, and the return of some muscle control, this is a truly ‘outstanding’ outcome.
“SpinalCure’s primary focus at present is to introduce neurostimulation research to Australia for the benefit of all those living with a spinal cord injury.”