When a spinal cord injury attorney examines the value of an injury lawsuit, he or she will look carefully at the long-term prognosis. In most cases where a spinal cord injury is “complete,” the likelihood one will ever walk again – or regain function of any significant degree at or below the injury site – is infintesimal. A spinal cord injury lawsuit centering on an incomplete injury may be return somewhat lesser damages for the greater chance there could be regained function, motion or feeling at or below the site of the injury. Still, if these functions aren’t restored within the first six months, the chances they will ever be are quite small.
However, the results of a recent experimental spinal cord injury treatment, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals how a Florida woman was one of a handful of paralyzed patients who is reportedly “walking” again. The Citrus County woman, 23, was one of the patients who suffered a complete spinal cord injury, “signifying no voluntary movement or sphincter function below the level of injury.” Though some did retain some level of sensation, they were not expected to recover independent walking. The 14 test patient subjects were roughly 2.5 years to 3.3 years post-traumatic spinal injury for whom recovery was not forthcoming with locomotor training alone. Researchers with the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center gave the patients some 278 epidural stimulation (electrical nerve stimulators placed in the spinal cord) and gate training over a period of 15 to 85 weeks.
All experienced voluntary movement with the implant, and also improved their bowel and bladder function. Four achieved independent standing and trunk stability. Two achieved over-ground walking (not on a treadmill). In addition to the young woman from Florida, the other person who regained walking function had been paralyzed from the neck down. When the stimulator is off, he is unable to even sit up. When it’s on, he can take small steps with a walker. Continue reading →