Healthcare providers don’t speak of “customers” or “clients” much. That’s because they have a better word for the people they serve: “Patient,” which comes from the Latin patiens, or one who suffers.
SCI patients are therefore spinal cord injury sufferers, and they’re the people Unique Access Medical (UAM) is most accustomed to helping. Thankfully, suffering is steadily decreasing as more effective SCI treatments are discovered, led by UAM’s groundbreaking Epidural Stimulation.
Epidural Stimulation involves implanting an electronic device on a patient’s damaged spine to redirect and intensify nerve signals from the brain to the spinal cord tissue below their injury level. The device acts as a bridge, and so far, UAM has performed over 50 successful Epidural Stimulation surgeries on SCI patients from around the world.
Epidural Stimulation helps quadriplegics make progress
One such patient is Dr. Richi Gill, a Canadian surgeon who was injured in an accident in early 2018. That autumn, after several months of strenuous post-accident rehabilitation at the Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury & Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary, Canada, Dr. Gill came to UAM’s surgical facility in Bangkok for an Epidural Stimulation implant.
That was his first Epidural Stimulation device. Now it’s spring, and he has returned to Bangkok for a second device, which makes him the first UAM patient — and therefore the first SCI patient in the world — with two devices.
For Dr. Gill, whose injury was at the C6-vertebrae level and left him paralyzed below the waist with very little use of his arms, his second trip to Thailand is being viewed as another step forward in his journey to a higher quality of life.
Why two Epidural Stimulation devices?
The decision to implant a second device on Dr. Gill’s spine was reached for two reasons. First, his recovery thus far with a single device has been positive. Second, he has a fighting spirit and shares a progressive mindset with UAM that makes us a global leader in innovations for SCI recovery.
During Dr. Gill’s first visit he received a stimulation device on his lumbar spine to improve his lower limb function, and on this visit he is receiving a device for his cervical spine to improve his upper limb function.
The progress he has made since receiving the lumbar stimulation device is due to several factors. The device itself has of course improved the nerve signalling that emanates from his brain and travels down his spine, and the physical therapy he has received — here in Bangkok for 35 days after his operation, and at Synaptic since his return to Canada — have increased his strength and stamina.
Interaction and expectations
Then there’s the technique we call “Device Mapping,” which is another aspect of Dr. Gill’s recovery and involves detailed analyses of the programmable settings on his implant.
For example, when a certain combination of electrical-pulse intensity and the pathways on which they travel produce desirable effects in the patient, they are logged in order to create a map of optimal settings for the patient’s device.
This is how our surgeons, therapists, and treatment partners ensure every patient’s Epidural Stimulation experience is tailored to their injury, their body, and their needs. It allows specific muscle groups to be targeted with appropriate levels of potency and a more interactive recovery protocol overall.
In Dr. Gill’s case, the first device and the ensuing rehabilitation have helped him regain the ability to flex his hip muscles, stand upright, and take steps with the assistance of his therapists.
With the addition of a second device this month, the expectations are to restore voluntary movement in his upper limbs; and the dream of returning to the operating theater as healer instead of patient comes more into focus for Dr. Richi Gill.