Device helps return hand, arm function to paralyzed people

More than 40 people experienced benefit from applying noninvasive electrical current to their damaged spinal cords.

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In a test of a novel device, more than 40 people with tetraplegia experienced the return of arm and hand function and other benefits.

The device, a little black box, delivers a continuous electrical current to the damaged area of spinal cord, said rehabilitation medicine professor Chet Moritz, lead author of the study that appeared May 20 in Nature Medicine. The therapy primed their nervous systems, but the users decided when to move and how much strength to apply. Study participants performed therapies and exercises while using the device and regained strength and dexterity over time.

About 72% of study participants saw benefit, and 28% did not, perhaps due to the severity of their injuries.

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