Saturday, October 25, 2014

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour - Paralysed man walks again

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour
Paralysed man walks again

There was great excitement last week as the BBC reported the story of a paralysed man who had become able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.
Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.
The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.
Prof Wagih El Masri who is a consultant spinal injuries surgeon was the surgeon who fulfilled the dream of his patient and the BBC Panorama programme had unique access to the project and spent a year charting the patients progress in rehabilitation.
Mr Fidyka said walking again - with the support of a frame - was "an incredible feeling", adding: "When you can't feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it's like you were born again."
Prof Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology, led the UK research team.
He said what had been achieved was "more impressive than man walking on the moon” adding that Paralysis treatment "has vast potential"
The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells - specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell. These cells act as pathway cells that enable nerve fibres in the olfactory system to be continually renewed.
In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient's olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture.
Two weeks later they transplanted the OECs into the spinal cord, which had been cut through in the knife attack apart from a thin strip of scar tissue on the right. They had just a drop of material to work with - about 500,000 cells.
About 100 micro-injections were made above and below the injury.
Four thin strips of nerve tissue were taken from the patient's ankle and placed across an 8mm (0.3in) gap on the left side of the cord.
The scientists believe the cells provided a pathway to enable fibres above and below the injury to reconnect, using the nerve grafts to bridge the gap in the cord.
Before the treatment, Mr Fidyka had been paralysed for nearly two years and had shown no sign of recovery despite many months of intensive physiotherapy.
This programme of exercise - five hours per day, five days a week - has continued after the transplant.
Mr Fidyka first noticed that the treatment had been successful after about three months, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.
Six months after surgery, Mr Fidyka was able to take his first tentative steps along parallel bars, using leg braces and the support of a physiotherapist.
Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation centre using a frame.
He has also recovered some bladder and bowel sensation and sexual function.

Amanda Thomas

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour
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