Another therapeutic approach that has shown promise is deep-brain stimulation. Stroke patients are good candidates for this approach to overcome weakness or paralysis. Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan used high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation over the affected part of the brain in stroke patients with moderate to severe paralysis.
Participants also received physical therapy in conjunction with magnetic stimulation. Magnetic stimulation, in effect, re-taught lost motor skills when combined with physical therapy. After the six-week trial, researchers reported that the patients regained some motor control and reversed paralysis temporarily by reducing abnormal muscle tension that inhibited movement.
Researchers concluded that the human brain can adapt to stimulation, opening the potential for using this method to treat paralysis in stroke patients and those with other movement disorders. Magnetic stimulation is non-invasive, offering a distinct advantage to other forms of treatment.
The research into a cure for paralysis has opened up new areas of understanding of how the human body functions. Knowledge of the genetics affecting nerve cell regeneration and how the brain adapts have uncovered novel methods to treating specific causes of paralysis. While controversial, stem cell research opens doors to re-programming unspecialized cells to repair damaged tissue. With continued research, the cure for paralysis may be within the grasp of science.