Are you suffering from chronic back pain issues?
Is your body not responding to any medication?
This fascinating new design for an incredibly tiny inflatable spinal cord implant is one way through which you can get some relief from chronic backache. This is a boon for those whose body is not responding to medications.
Let us take you through the entire process of this transplant.
What is an Inflatable Spinal Cord Implant?
The inflatable spinal cord implant is a type of well-established therapy that is performed by delivering mild electric currents to a person's spinal cord via implanted electrodes. This is a part of the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) setup.
A small implanted pulse generator is used to send small electrical currents and this whole process reduces pain. This happens because the electrical pulses help to mask pain signals traveling to the brain through the spinal cord.
How does this procedure work?
Scientists from the University of Cambridge who designed this implant say that this treatment is only for those suffering unbearable pain in the back and cannot complete their daily chores on their own.
This procedure involves sticking electrodes into the patient's spinal column. This column is a fibrous outer layer that wraps around the nerve cell. Scientists call this the trickiest part of the entire procedure.
The electrodes that need to be implanted are just a few millimeters across and are very tiny. Therefore, inserting them into your spinal column through bony vertebrae is a huge task. Doctors have to remove a small portion of vertebrae and then thread it through to perform this successfully.
Scientists claim that though there are other procedures through which this can be done, like injecting a smaller device through a needle, they are not effective in curbing the pain for a long period because they cover a smaller area of your spinal cord.
This inflatable device stands out because it is small, so it fits inside a hollow needle. However, the process of inserting it in the spinal column has to be followed religiously, failing which the treatment won’t work.
Once the device is placed, it is rolled out into a paddled, very thin air mattress with just a small amount of liquid. One special feature that this device holds is that it is very flexible. It is this flexible electronics that helps the device to change its shape once inserted. Also, the presence of microfluidic channels makes it more inflatable.
What motivated the scientists to make this device?
The main motive of making this device was to reduce the need for invasive surgery for any patient who was suffering from severe backache.
The team achieved excellent results after they tested their device in vitro, in which they used a model of a spinal column to see how the electrodes performed. They then proceeded and validated their design on human cadavers.
The device can cover a larger area without invasive surgeries offering an entirely new dimension to the central nervous system interfaces.
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