University of Minnesota and Hennepin Healthcare Medical experts restore movement and autonomic function in patients with complete paralysis

Study demonstrates spinal cord stimulation as a treatment for chronic spinal cord injury

There are more than 290,000 people estimated to be living in the United States with a spinal cord injury. Previously, it has been shown that it is possible to restore some function to young and healthy patients within a few years of injury. Now, researchers show spinal cord stimulation can immediately restore some voluntary movement and autonomic functions such as cardiovascular, bowel, and bladder years after a paralyzing injury without any significant rehabilitation.

“This was an opportunity to use epidural stimulation, combine my background in mathematics, collaborate with people from multiple disciplines including biomedical engineering and set up a truly innovative trial,” said Dr. David Darrow, a neurosurgery resident at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a lead investigator for the E-STAND Clinical trial. He is also a senior neurosurgery resident at Hennepin Healthcare and University of Minnesota Medical Center. “We wanted to push the envelope for patients. Once we determined it worked, we moved on to knocking down other barriers to translation to patient care.”

In a study recently published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, Darrow and his colleagues implanted the first series of female patients who both suffered devastating traumatic spinal cord injury.  Both patients had no lower body function whatsoever and MRIs showing very little residual spinal cord at the level of injury. The two women were five and ten years from injury and in their 5th and 6th decade of life, which is much closer to the average patient with spinal cord injury compared to the work of other investigators.

“Enabling someone to move her legs more than 10 years after being paralyzed from spinal cord injury has been one of the greatest moments of my career, “ said Uzma Samadani, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery University of Minnesota Medical School and Neurosurgeon with Hennepin Healthcare. “I am grateful to my colleagues for their mutual hard work during the 2 years it took to get from idea to the first operation.”

In this study researchers expanded the inclusion guidelines of who could receive epidural stimulation.

“We believe that we are studying a population that is much closer to the general population of patients with spinal cord injury,” said Darrow. “We have opened the doors to so many more patients with traumatic spinal cord injury.”

“While we are excited for all this could mean for patients, there is still a lot of research to be done, both with this therapy and through other avenues, many of which we are studying at the University of Minnesota,” said Ann M. Parr, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Parr has an active translational spinal cord injury research laboratory at the Stem Cell Institute.

This work was made possible by a grant through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education SCI/TBI Grant Program and collaboration of an interdisciplinary group spread across four institutions.  The stimulation devices were a gift from Abbott (formerly St. Jude’s).

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.

About Hennepin Healthcare
Hennepin Healthcare is an integrated system that includes HCMC, a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI), as well as a large outpatient Clinic and Specialty Center and a network of clinics in downtown Minneapolis and suburban Hennepin County.

HHRI supports and oversees the medical research conducted at HCMC, where the more than 10,000 trauma patients are cared for each year. Visit hennepinhealthcare.org for more details about the comprehensive services and hhrinstitute.org for innovative research taking place at Minnesota’s Level I Trauma Center.

Contact: Krystle Barbour
Media Relations Manager, University of Minnesota Medical School
kbarbour@umn.edu
612-626-2767

Contact: Christine Hill
Sr. Media Relations Specialist, Hennepin Healthcare
christine.hill@hcmed.org
612-873-5719

 

 

Concerned individuals, including Jack Jablonski family, speaking out about immediate changes for safer hockey

In light of the recent tragic incident involving Benilde St. Margaret Sophomore, Jack “Jabby” Jablonski, who sustained a severe spinal cord injury from a check from behind that sent him headfirst into the boards, Jack’s family members and hockey leaders are speaking out for immediate changes to hockey to make it safer for our nation’s youth.

WHAT: A press conference covering pointed statements and a call-to-action for USA Hockey to strictly enforce the rules as outlined in the USA Hockey Official Rules & Casebook, particularly on body checking and the boarding penalty.

WHO: Max, Leslie & Mike Jablonski; Ken Pauly, head coach of Benilde St. Margaret Boy’s Hockey; Lou Nanne

WHERE:

Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis

730 S. 8th Street Entrance, Room # RL110

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 12, 1:30 p.m.

WHY: 

  • To create a safe environment for all hockey players, especially children.
  • We are witnessing an increase in dangerous contact in hockey — a 100 percent increase over the past decade in visits to the hospital due to violence in the sport.
  • If the USA Hockey Rules were enforced more assertively, checking directly into the boards without intention of playing the puck would be called as boarding penalties. They typically are not.
  • What does the USA Hockey rulebook say about boarding? A minor or major penalty shall be assessed to any player who commits any action that causes an opponent to be thrown violently into the boards…The purpose of a body check is to separate the opponent from the puck. Any time a player delivers a check for the purpose of intimidating or punishing the opponent, and therefore causes the opponent to be driven excessively into the boards, a boarding penalty must be assessed.
  • Already, the Minnesota State High School Hockey League is addressing this issue.
  • USA Hockey leaders are at a national meeting in Florida this weekend. A loud call-to-action is necessary to ensure that we place pressure on this governing organization to immediately address this urgent issue. We want referees calling boarding penalties and fans to support the referees that do so.
  • A campaign is being launched to drive change involving governing bodies, parents/fans, players, coaches and referees.
  • To create a safer  hockey environment so that no other player EVER sustains an injury like Jack Jablonski.   We can’t let this happen again.  We must drive immediate change.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:  Q&A to follow remarks.

Media Contact: Mardi Larson, 612.928.0202,  or mardi@mardilarson.com or Christine Hill, 612.919.8711 or media@hcmed.org