An electronic implant can heal damaged nerves in as short as two weeks, a recent study shows. The implantable electronic device stimulates peripheral nerves by bombarding them with electronic impulses.
The device, the size of a quarter, successfully stimulated damaged leg nerves in rats in less than two weeks. The rats regained the use of their nerves and strength in their muscles in several days. These results are exciting as surgeons are looking for a method to heal damaged peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy) during surgery.
The applications to heal in humans are far ranging. For example, damaged peripheral nerves in organs such as the heart, blood vessels, digestive system, and eyes can be healed during surgery.
The purpose of the innovation is to speed up recovery of peripheral nerve injuries. This electrical stimulation is most effective during surgery. Unfortunately, once the surgery is over, the window for successful intervention is closed.
Electronic Implant: What Are Your Peripheral Nerves?
Peripheral nerves run through the your torso, arms, and legs. They differ from nerves in the spinal cord in that their cells and tissue can regrow after damage. Re-growth can be accelerated with electrical stimulation which releases growth promoters.
In general, injury to peripheral nerves causes tingling, numbness, pain, and muscle weakness. With medication and physical therapy, some injuries can heal in weeks, while others can take several months. Severe cases, however, require surgery, and recovery is very slow and often accompanied with severe pain. Currently, it is estimated that peripheral nerve damage affects 20 million people in the United States with an annual healthcare bill of $150 billion.
In cases treated with surgery, electrical stimulation can help nerve cells regrow and heal damaged tissue by triggering the release of growth promoters.
This electronic implant is biodegradeable and is programmed to dissolve following the treatment protocol. Application to humans, especially senior citizens, would speed up the healing process, decrease pain during recovery, and eliminate the need for drug interventions.