Breakthrough research has discovered that implanted electro-acupuncture combined with bone marrow cell transplantation increases success rates in the healing of spinal cord injuries. Transplantation of bone marrow derived stromal cells into injured spinal cords helps in the restoration of motor functionality. However, survival rates for transplanted cells is low thereby limiting the therapeutic value of the procedure. Researchers combined implanted electro-acupuncture with the cell transplantation procedure and concluded that electro-acupuncture “induced a significantly higher functional improvement in locomotor functions” than cell transplantation only. Electro-acupuncture also “significantly increased the number of surviving BMSCs (bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells) compared to the BMSCs alone group.” The researchers concluded that “our experiment showed that the approach of coupling iEA (implanted electro-acupuncture) electric stimulation and BMSCs transplantation remarkably promotes functional improvements in animals with spinal cord injury and holds promising potential to treat spinal cord injury in humans.”
New successes with electrochemical approaches to spinal cord recovery procedures is not isolated. Recently, researchers combined electrical stimulation to the motor area of the brain and the spinal cord below the area of the injury. In addition, drugs were infused into the region of the wounded area to promote healing. The results were dramatic. Paralyzed rats were able to walk and run after severe spinal cord injuries. This research followed last year’s revelation, reported in the Lancet, that a 23 year old paraplegic man regained the ability to stand and walk using a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device.
Implanted electro-acupuncture electric stimulation improves outcome of stem cells’ transplantation in spinal cord injury. March 2, 2012. doi:10.3109/10731199.2012.659350. Haichun Liu, Kaiyun Yang, Tao Xin, Wenliang Wu & Yunzhen Chen1. Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Shandong University Qilu Hospital, P. R. China. Department of Neurosurgery, Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, China.
Science 1 June 2012, Vol. 336 no. 6085 pp. 1182-1185. 10.1126/science.1217416. Restoring Voluntary Control of Locomotion after Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury.
Effect of epidural stimulation of the lumbosacral spinal cord on voluntary movement, standing, and assisted stepping after motor complete paraplegia: a case study. Susan Harkema, Yury Gerasimenko, Jonathan Hodes, Joel Burdick, Claudia Angeli, Yangsheng Chen, Christie Ferreira, Andrea Willhite, Enrico Rejc, Robert G Grossman, V Reggie Edgerton. The Lancet 4 June 2011 (Volume 377 Issue 9781 Pages 1938-1947 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60547-3).