He was young, physically active, and a father when his whole world changed. Coming home from the gym, this man was riding his motorcycle when an elderly driver suddenly crossed four lanes of traffic. The car and motorcycle collided head-on, and despite wearing his safety gear, the young father was paralyzed from the abdomen down. Now, after almost a decade of treatment, medical research might be helping this 38-year-old walk again. But will this treatment be effective for other victims of spinal cord injury?
Can Motorcycle Accident Victims Be Helped by Modern Medical Research?
After damaging the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae in his spine, Andrew Meas was paralyzed from below his chest down. He told doctors that he had some feeling in his lower body, but it was mostly pins and needles. From there, he worked hard to recover, even becoming skilled at “quad rugby.” But after a year, doctors were not expecting Meas to recover any further.
Then in 2011, Meas joined an entered a research study at Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center. Researchers implanted electric stimulators in and around Meas’ spine to simulate brain signals that initiate movement. The experimental treatment along with “locomotor training” helped Meas gain the ability to stand on his own and on one leg for short periods of time. As time went on, Meas also regained more movement in his lower extremities, but that wasn’t the surprising part of his treatment.
Eventually, Meas was able to recover enough to stand on one leg for around thirty seconds and to stand with both legs for several minutes without the aid of the electrodes implanted in his back. This kind of recovery was completely unexpected by researchers, and they believe it could open up a new line of treatments for people suffering from spinal cord injuries.
For now, these researchers are bringing in eight new research participants in addition to the four who are already in the study. They will continue to test the recovery strategy used in Meas’ case, and if they find more success, new treatments could soon be available to injured riders all over the country.
Brought to you by the attorneys who ride at Metier Law Firm—looking out for the health of motorcyclists in Colorado and all over the nation.