In Switzerland, a neurosurgeon who usually works out of Lausanne University Hospital got to try her hand at a new kind of surgery. You see, this doctor normally operates on humans, but a few months ago she tried her hand at operating on a monkey instead. Why would a human neurosurgeon spend 10 hours of their day operating on an animal? The answer could mean fewer wheelchairs in the future of paraplegics.
Have Doctors Developed a Treatment for Paralysis?
The monkey that was operated on had an injury on its spine that prevented the animal from using one of its legs. This was because the brain’s connection to the leg had been cut off, so doctors decided to fix that connection.
They put special electrodes on the monkey’s spine, below the injury. Then they put electrodes on the ape’s brain in the region that controls leg functions. They attached the electrodes to a wireless transmitter outside the monkey’s skull, and then they waited. A few weeks after implantation, the monkey was able to use its leg again—though at a decreased capacity. Just to make sure the experiment worked, scientists repeated the experiment in another monkey that had a similar injury. Once again the experiment worked.
How Long Before This Breakthrough Can Help People with Disabilities?
Human trials are beginning, and two people with partial leg paralysis are recovering from their own implantation surgeries. However, there’s still quite some time before we see this treatment used widely in humans. Scientists experimented in mice for 10 years before taking the step up to experimenting in monkeys. That process took another seven years to complete before reaching the stage the research is at now.
This breakthrough in science is just another step in changing the way people with disabilities are treated in our society. What effects do you think it will have on the disability community? Tell your Tulsa disability attorneys what you think on Facebook and Twitter.