In a promising development for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients awaiting new treatment options, generous venture capitalist Tim Reynolds recently donated $1 million to support two groundbreaking treatments for SCI. Mr. Reynolds has been paying close attention to this field ever since his own spine injury back in the year 2000, and he hopes to speed up the FDA approval process.
It’s a different story abroad, however, where commercial Epidural Stimulation treatments are well underway.
The Epidural Stimulation timeline
Treating SCI patients with electrical stimulation is an idea that dates all the way back to the 1960s. Researchers theorized that a device could send targeted impulses to a patient’s spine to manage pain. During their trials, they discovered a central pattern generator, which allows people to handle rhythmic movement such as walking without consciously processing each step.
A better understanding of the human spine led to Epidural Stimulation’s development decades later, when a US-based professor generated involuntary rhythmic leg movements in a motor complete SCI patient. Then, in 2011, Epidural Stimulation made the news again: A university trial enabled a 23-year-old paraplegic man to stand on his own and even take small steps.
By 2014, three more patients experienced similar results as well as significant autonomic improvements (stable blood pressure, bowel control, etc.). So now, eight years after a dramatic breakthrough in paralysis treatment, why are Epidural Stimulation headlines still about investment in clinical trials and not about patients receiving treatment?
Trials in the US vs. full-scale treatment abroad
Due to the lengthy FDA review process, the researcher responsible for the 2011 trial had to wait seven years to have a follow-up study approved. But by that time, international providers like Unique Access Medical (UAM) had already begun implanting Epidural Stimulation devices on SCI patients’ spines.
So while commercial Epidural Stimulation treatments are years away from being a reality in the US, 70 patients have received the procedure through UAM. In fact, the first two people in history to receive two concurrent epidural stimulators are our patients.
This is not to say that researchers should abandon new clinical trials and pushing for FDA approval of Epidural Stimulation. After all, Mr. Reynolds’s goal is to develop a transcutaneous device: one that would be much less invasive than what exists today.
But it seems clear that most any SCI patient would prefer to receive a proven treatment today over waiting another 5-10 years for a less invasive version that is still unproven.
Receive Epidural Stimulation treatment today
UAM was the first organization to arrange this treatment outside of the research environment. And, as our international representatives working in countries like Canada, Mexico, and Poland tell prospective patients: “Their research is confirmed by our results.”
Everyone wins when new treatments get the green light, so we hope that Mr. Reynolds’s well-intended donation speeds up the FDA-approval process. But for those who don’t have the option to participate in a clinical trial, UAM offers free Epidural Stimulation consultations.
If you’re a good fit for our Epidural Stimulation procedure and the supportive therapies that come with it, you can start as soon as possible. Visit our website today to start the process.