The research of Reggie Edgerton, Susan Harkema, Wise Young and others has shown that epidural stimulation in combination with locomotor training can lead to restoration of a number of important functions, including bowel, bladder, sexual function, temperature regulation and more. Electrical stimulation is also an excitatory stimulus. It follows that another logical possibility for further research is to explore the potential of epidural stimulation by itself.
The obvious upside of epidural stimulation by itself is that it would appeal to a much larger percentage of chronic SCI survivors, who would benefit more or less immediately. Those who want to follow up with locomotor training could then do so at the pace and commitment level that is most practical for their individual lifestyle.
Unite to Fight Paralysis advocates for more inclusive research that focuses on more readily achievable, partial recovery of function. Matthew Rodreick, executive director of U2FP, is working with the research community to include the priorities of the SCI community in clinical trials. “It seems the scientific community has been obsessively focused on walking in most of their SCI trials. Most of the studies have paired locomotor training with other ‘tools’ to gain recovery in walking. But a number of studies have now shown that bowel and bladder and other important functions are being regained, mainly as a kind of side effect. So why can’t that now be the major aim of stud