The staff of CTVNews.ca, with a report by CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Phillip
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 22:00 EDT
Canadian researchers open the door to a new approach to recovering patients who are unable to walk safely on their own due to Parkinson's disease.
It is estimated that up to 50% of Parkinson's patients lose their ability to walk normally due to the disease. Many suddenly stop in the middle of a step, causing the risk of falling. Others have slow and inconvenient walks. Since there is no existing treatment for this condition, many of these patients become linked to a wheelchair or nailed to the bed.
Gail Jardin's condition did not go so far, but he knew the problem well. Parkinson left the 66-year-old Kitchener, Ontario, who could not walk safely without help. Several times a day, she will experience what she describes as "freezing" – a sudden inability to move her legs while walking.
"I fell a lot … it could have been five times a day," she told CTV News.
The "freezing" did not allow her to enjoy a walk or play with her grandchildren. She left her job and relied on her husband to deal with most homework.
Over the past two months, however, Jardin has found his base – thanks to an implanted electric stimulator near the spine and a remote control that allows him to control the current sent through the stimulator.
"Now I can walk around the house without a cane. My self-esteem returns and I can do things like going to the mall or going out for dinner, "she said.
Jardin is among the 15 patients who are part of the London research, Ontario, testing the potential of electrical signals to suppress their disease.
The theory is that electrical stimulation prevails over signals sent to the spine through Parkinson's disease, allowing patients to regain their mobility.
"We … increase the volume of what goes through the spinal cord into the brain that can awaken the motor system," said Dr. Mandar Jog, a neurologist at the Lawson Institute of Health in London. in an interview.
As a West University neurosurgeon, Dr. Andrew Parrett, part of the study, explains that wire wounds in the spine of the spine and attaches itself to a stimulant. The patient is given what is essentially a remote control device that can turn on and off electricity and gain the power up or down.
Physicians also use computer tracking devices to adapt the stimulus to walking problems unique to each patient.
Researchers find that there is no universal solution. Instead, different patients respond to different levels of stimulation. Researchers reported several complications or side effects and said that of the first five patients implanted in the first phase of the study, three continued to use the device. The two have stopped using it because their Parkinson's disease has deteriorated to where they put them at risk.
The second study is already under way and has so far treated 10 patients – all of whom do not respond to Levodopa, the standard drug for Parkinson's. Researchers hope to hire another 10 to test the device.
A number of patients in the Canadian study reported similar results with Jardine's treatment, helping them recover to their normal levels of mobility.
"[We have] Patients return, saying: "You changed my life, I do not fall, I'm not afraid to be the kind I am," said Jog.
"That's what we live for – to make sure we have discoveries that go directly from the bench to our bed. It could not have been more pleasant. "