Oscillating field stimulation in the treatment of spinal cord injury

Academic Article


  • The application of electrical current to injured tissue is known to promote healing. The use of this modality in healing the injured spinal cord to promote neurologic recovery has been introduced as a potential treatment for patients who previously had minimal hope of recovery. In in vitro and in vivo experiments, neural regeneration has been seen to occur, especially when an oscillating field is used. With this modality, an electrical current is applied in which the polarity changes direction on a periodic basis, preventing the "die-back" phenomenon of severed neural pathways. This mechanism of recovery has been demonstrated in several species in which sacrifice has been undertaken and spinal cords examined. In a study of humans, a small number of patients participated in a single phase Ia trial in which the safety of an implantable device was demonstrated, with indications of probable benefit, consistent with laboratory and animal studies. In addition, a number of additional patients were treated, and their results were examined along with the original cohort and were compared with historical control subjects. The device used in this mode of treatment has not been approved for use in the general spinal cord-injured population, pending further study. A larger multi-institutional trial needs to be done to further demonstrate efficacy and effectiveness, and outcomes will need to be agreed upon by spinal cord injury researchers, patients, and regulators before widespread use will be permitted. Unfortunately, some subtle changes experienced and valued by patients are not recognized as important or desirable by regulators or by all researchers. © 2010 by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 14691223
  • Author List

  • Walters BC
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 12 SUPPL