A 62-year-old Parkinson’s patient in Bordeaux, France, has experienced significant improvements in mobility, walking almost normally, thanks to a spinal implant. The patient, referred to as “Marc,” underwent a precision neurosurgical procedure two years ago, receiving an electrode field on his spinal cord and an electrical impulse generator.
The implant focuses on the spinal area associated with activating leg muscles for walking, rather than targeting brain regions affected by dopamine loss. Marc wears movement sensors on each leg, and the implant sends real-time electrical impulses to targeted spinal neurons, adapting to his movements. The success has prompted researchers to work on a commercial version in collaboration with Onward Medical, aiming to provide wider access to this innovative technology for Parkinson’s patients globally. Research on six new patients is scheduled for 2024, funded by a generous donation of $1 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.