Spinal cord treatment restores function in paralyzed patients under study

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Ninety percent of it paralyzed patients regained strength or function in their upper limbs after receiving an experimental therapy, a new study found.

After receiving a spinal cord simulation from ONWARD Medical's ARC-EX system, participants saw “significant improvement” in their hand and arm function, according to a press release.

The study, published Monday in Nature Medicine, included 65 participants at 14 leading spinal cord injury centers in the US, Europe and Canada.

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The participants received non-invasive electrical stimulation of the spinal cord using ARC-EX, and then researchers measured the safety and effectiveness of the system.

Improvement was even seen in people whose injuries occurred up to 34 years ago, the publication said.

After receiving a spinal cord simulation from ONWARD Medical's ARC-EX system, participants saw a “significant improvement” in hand and arm function, according to a new study. (Naturopathy)

“When someone sustains a spinal cord injury, they are sent home after two to three months of rehabilitation and told there is nothing more that can be done,” Dave Marver, CEO of ONWARD Medical, told Fox News Digital.

The company is global; the head office is located in the Netherlands.

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“This week's publication in Nature Medicine heralds a new era care for spinal cord injuries. The Up-LIFT study has shown that ONWARD ARC therapy can restore strength and function to the hands and arms for up to 34 years after spinal cord injury.”

“This is a game-changer for the spinal cord injury community and their loved ones.”

Physiotherapy for women

Improvement was even seen in people whose injuries occurred up to 34 years ago, the publication said. (iStock)

The study results far exceeded the researchers' expected 50% response rate — giving “new hope” to people with spinal cord injuries, noted lead study author Chet Moritz, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington. , at the time of publication.

After two months, more than half of the paralyzed participants regained enough “grip strength” to lift a filled cup, pick up an object with a fork or insert a key, Moritz said.

“This is a game-changer for the spinal cord injury community and their loved ones.”

“This indicates not only improved strength and function, but also the potential for greater independence with ARC-EX therapy,” he said.

Additional benefits included reduced muscle spasms, improved sleep and increased sense of touch in the upper body, the release said.

Eighty-seven percent of participants reported experiencing an improvement quality of life after receiving therapy.

Man with water

After two months, more than half of the paralyzed participants regained enough “grip strength” to lift a filled cup, the study said. (iStock)

“Improving arm and hand function is among the highest priorities for people with tetraplegia (paralysis of the upper and lower body) who have gone far too long without effective therapies for functional recovery,” said Marver, the company's CEO, in the press release.

“The findings published in Nature Medicine provide critical and compelling evidence that ARC-EX has the potential to restore independence in daily activities and [the patients’] quality of life.”

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Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was not involved in the study but commented on the results.

“This has been tried for many years and there are reports that it helps, but it has not yet become mainstream in patients with upper and lower spinal cord paralysis,” he told Fox News Digital.

“Improving arm and hand function is one of the highest priorities for people with tetraplegia.”

“This small study in a very prominent journal is very encouraging in terms of some recovery of upper extremity function,” Siegel continued.

'It justifies it further study and more universal use in these patients.”

It is possible that this type of spinal cord stimulation could be combined with the increasing use of other brain and spinal interfaces to restore function, the doctor added.

ARC-EX

ONWARD Medical's ARC-EX system, shown here, performs non-invasive electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. (CONTINUE Medical)

John Hinson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Florida, was also not involved in the study, but shared his insights on the findings.

“Patients with incomplete quadriplegia may experience weakness and muscle spasms, as well as sensory changes that can cause significant loss of function,” he told Fox News Digital.

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Traditional treatments for these injuries include physical therapy, he noted, but results can be limited.

“Examination of the study results shows that after two months of use, more than half of patients showed significant functional improvement in activities such as grasping and pinching required for basic daily tasks,” Hinson said.

“If these results can be achieved predictably, it would significantly improve the lives of patients with spinal cord injuries that resulted in incomplete quadriplegia.”

Physiotherapy session

Traditional treatments for these injuries include physical therapy, but results can be limited, one doctor noted. (iStock)

According to Hinson, this could potentially be a “big factor” in treating these patients.

ONWARD has filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain approval for the ARC-EX system. Approval is expected later this year.

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“We are focused on our commitment to bringing this unique technology to the SCI community as quickly as possible,” Marver said.

The ARC-EX system requires a prescription from a qualified healthcare professional once approved for use, according to the company.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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