In 2014 a fascinating study was published in “Brain-Journal of Neurology.” The study written by Claudia A. Angeli, V. Reggie Edgerton, Yury P. Gerasimenko and Susan J. Harkema demonstrates the ability of four individuals with chronic complete paralysis to execute voluntary tasks with a selectivity of appropriate motor pools in the presence of Epidural Stimulation.
In three of four individuals, they observed the recovery of voluntary movement with Epidural Stimulation soon after implantation, two of whom had complete loss of both motor and sensory function. This shows that by neuromodulating the spinal circuitry at sub-threshold motor levels with epidural stimulation, chronically complete paralysed individuals can process conceptual, auditory, and visual input to regain specific voluntary control of paralysed muscles.
The team has uncovered a fundamentally new intervention strategy that can dramatically affect recovery of voluntary movement in individuals with complete paralysis even years after injury. An epidural spinal cord stimulation unit (Medtronics, RestoreAdvanced) and a 16-electrode array was implanted at vertebrae T11-T12 over spinal cord segments L1-S1 in four individuals with motor complete spinal cord injury.
Four individuals diagnosed with clinically motor complete paralysis and implanted with an epidural stimulator at least 2.2 years post injury were able to execute intentional movements of the legs in response to verbal command.