Matt hands off the program for the 2nd half of the morning and the rest of the conference.

When I first met Thomas he was Wii boxing with Gabe at the Courage Center; kicked his butt… he was using a power chair at that time. Thomas is sitting there in a manual chair nodding and smiling.

First up will be Kendall Lee from the Mayo Clinic. He’s a neurosurgeon who has done implants for Parkinson’s patients. About 5 yrs ago a doctor came to him and asked if that couldn’t be done for SCI patients … why not? And then he got called to a dinner where he happened to be seated next to Reggie Edgerton. It was the first time he’d heard about epidural stimulation.

I’ll be honest. At that point I was very dubious. Everything I’d been taught said it wouldn’t work.

So it’s very important for people to be able to replicate results. Because of that, we embarked on this project with Reggie as our collaborator. They got funding from the Mayo Clinic, from the Neilsen Foundation, and others.

Many scientists have shown that epidural stimulation works in animals. (Showing a rat with a complete transection of the cord, strolling along on a moving treadmill.) Can we do this in humans?

Dr Harkema has published data on 4 patients who have regained some function by way of epidural stimulation. So our first goal was to replicate this study. We’re in the process of doing this; we’ve got one patient recruited and are about to recruit more.

And he nvites Dr Zhao  to talk about the inclusion criteria for this study.

  1. Non-Progressive SCI between C7 and T10
  2. ASIA A or B
  3. At least 2 yrs post injury

Timeline from enrollment to stimulation is 27 weeks of rehab followed by surgery followed by 3 weeks of recovery, then stimulators turned on. Then exercises with stim.

Their Patient One was complete ASIA A with zero detectable sensory or motor connections. This person went through the 27 weeks of rehab, just to be sure. No return.

Showing the surgical team of 7 doctors and 1 patient … they implanted the electrodes into his epidural space (shows a quick video of that in color closeup!) There are 2 wires coming off the set of 15 electrodes. This patient’s injury was L1-T11.

Another doctor (Peter Grahn) comes up to talk about what happened during the 2nd day after the post-surgical recovery. Showing a video of the patient trying to move his leg without stim and with it. They got him to move his legs in response to both visual and audio cues … meaning that info from his brain was somehow getting to his legs WITH STIM only applied far below the injury site.

Next steps: 8 months more with first guy. enroll subject 2 investigate mechanisms in animal models.

Long term: enroll 10 subjects, establish subsequent clinical trial on ASIA A, B, and C. Optimize rehab training paradigm — meaning make it efficient and able to maximize recovery.

They’re initiating this next phase right now. Their Patient #1 is still making progress, and they’re trying to get this data published.

They’ve successfully replicated the Harkema results, in other words. This is excellent news.

As a neurosurgeon, this is one of the highlights of my career.