Breakthrough Paralysis Research Powered By Every Step Taken At The Wings For Life World Run

Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation and Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Unite to advance a groundbreaking therapy for spinal cord injury

Breakthrough Paralysis Research

SALZBURG, AustriaMarch 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It all started with a single toe. Even today, Dr. Susan Harkema recalls the words spoken by one of the research participants: "Look Susie, I can move my toe." The patient's name was Rob Summers and he was completely paralyzed from the neck down. After a car accident he was told he would never be able to walk again. But just a few weeks after Harkema had implanted an electrical stimulator wired to the spinal cord, the unthinkable suddenly became reality. Rob slowly started to move his limbs.  He was the first of four patients who received epidural electrical stimulation during experimental therapy. In a world where spinal cord injury is still deemed irreversible, the stimulation of nerves that were thought to be lost was considered nothing short of a medical miracle.

Today, in a powerful statement for the progression of spinal cord injury research, the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation announced they have joined forces to expand Dr. Harkema's groundbreaking work. The partnership will enable researchers to move forward with a breakthrough clinical study that will likely commence in mid-2015.

The study, called The Big Idea, will test the hypothesis in 36 individuals living with spinal cord injury that epidural stimulation can be used to recover a significant level of autonomic control. A special group of eight patients will be funded with a significant part of the proceeds from the inaugural Wings for Life World Run, held in 2014. The global running event, which saw thousands of athletes start at the very same time in 34 locations around the globe, generated $4.1 million to foster promising spinal cord research projects. The event will be held again on May 3, 2015.

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