Doctors from Carolinas Medical Centre in Charlotte have performed a path-breaking experiment wherein they cut into the damaged spinal cord of 55-year-old Roger to insert a sort of bridge for his surviving nerve cells.
Called the neuro-spinal scaffold, the device is a tiny cylindrical implant made of biodegradable plastic fibers. The device supports nerve cells like a trellis by directing their growth where needed. Spinal cord injuries at present are treated with rods and screws but it overlooks nerve cells that relay electrical impulses from the brain to the body. Patients with Roger’s condition have 1-in-20 chance of recovering sensation in paralysed areas.
Roger is the third person to have received the implant developed by InVivo Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., and the second person with improved body function wherein he regained sensation in his abdomen, legs and bladder after the experiment. Roger, a construction worker, suffered a spinal cord injury just four months ago that left him with no sensation from the middle of his chest. The new device is a ray of hope for patients with Roger’s condition.