Heavenly Father, physician of our souls and bodies, Who have sent Your only-begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ to heal every sickness and infirmity, visit and heal also Your servant Michael from all physical and spiritual ailments through the grace of Your Christ. Grant him patience in this sickness, strength of body and spirit, and recovery of health.
Lord, You have taught us through Your word to pray for each other that we may be healed. I pray, heal Your servant Michael and grant to him the gift of complete health. For You are the source of healing and to You I give glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I just got off the phone with Beth and she asked me to send this update. She is so tuned into this tender community and how we all want updates as often as possible about Michael.
The doctor is not allowing the family or Beth to see Michael today because he has been overstimulated and he also over stimulates himself by trying to talk. He needs his rest. Beth was going to try to slip in there quietly just to make eye contact with him. Please keep sending Michael soothing loving thoughts.
As you read, yesterday was very difficult for everyone. Michael had 2 respiratory arrests - the whole family was in the room when he had the second one last night and that was very scary. Luckily nurses and a doctor were in the room so they saved him. Again. Please keep praying that Michael can breathe comfortably.
SURGERY TODAY FOR TRACHEOSTOMY AND PEG TUBE
Michael will have a surgery today, soon, for a tracheostomy (also calle d tracheotomy) and a PEG Tube. The tracheostomy will be a tube inserted into his throat so he can breathe. This will hopefully be temporary. In the meantime it will enable him to breathe without fear of suffocation and to talk! He may sound a little different but we will be able to understand him. It will also help him be able to transfer to Craig Hospital in Denver for rehab so he can get out of ICU. Craig Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the country for spinal cord injuries and they specialize in helping people learn to live with paralysis with as much support, knowledge, skills and happiness as possible. https://www.craighospital.org/
The PEG tube (Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) will be inserted into his stomach through his abominal wall so they can feed him. This will also hopefully be temporary. We are also hoping that we can work with the dietician because Michael's body loves organic whole foods.
Both of these surgeries will m ean that he will no longer have any tubes down his throat, which means that he will be able to talk again. This will be a huge relief for him and for everyone. I know we are all thinking of Michael and how hard it has been these last few days that he hasn't been able to communicate.
Please pray that these surgeries go as smoothly as possible. Please send Michael calming healing light, and energy and focus to his medical team. And prayers that he heals very quickly from these surgeries and that his body accepts these tubes.
The neurologists finished the EEG today at noon and did not see any damage in Michael's brain. They did the EEG for ~11 hours so they had a good look. Yay - something we can rejoice! Beth said the neurologist was very adorable - had a white coat, bow tie and a doctor's bag - like a cartoon character.
Some very sad news is that Michael currently has a syndrome that makes it feel like he is getting an elect ric shock when touched. OUCH. This can happen with people who have paralysis. We aren't sure yet if it is every time he is touched, every where he is touched, how strong it is or if it is just some times and in some places. When Michael can talk again he will be able to tell us specifics (I am sure he is tracking it!). This could last just a few weeks, a few months, or the rest of his life. There are medications for it, but it would be great if he didn't have to take any additional meds.
Please pray that this syndrome passes as quickly as possible so that he can be touched. Michael needs to be touched - not just for comfort and love, but also by his caregivers and to receive different therapies. And we need to touch him, too!
(Beth said it sounded like "Lumerre's" Syndrome, but when I google that or other spellings I can't find it. Does anyone know what it is?)
BLOOD PRESSURE IS MORE STABLE
Last night and today Michael's blood pressure is more stable. Phew - more news to rejoice over.
Beth got some noice cancelling head phones - thank you everyone!
Like Beth asked us to do yesterday, we can hold Michael's hands. And as Annie Brook said in her Well Wishes post last night 'waking up at night,' we can send Michael loving "amygdala eyes" watching over him.
Thank you everyone for your love, focus and prayers. We can feel you aching with all of us. Our hearts are breaking open for Michael. And tears. I am sure many of you are crying as often as I am. I am receiving so many sweet emails from Michael's loved ones who are thinking of Michael and what he needs and how they can help him. I am so touched. Beth and Michael's family is so grateful to all of you. Please keep praying and holding Michael and his medical team in love and light and soothing thoughts.
Love to all,
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31.05.12 - Scientists wake up a dormant spinal column and restore voluntary lower body movement when stimulated.
Rats with spinal cord injuries and severe paralysis are now walking (and running) thanks to researchers at EPFL. Published in the June 1, 2012 issue of Science, the results show that a severed section of the spinal cord can make a comeback when its own innate intelligence and regenerative capacity is awakened. The study, begun five years ago at the University of Zurich, points to a profound change in our understanding of the central nervous system. According to lead author Grégoire Courtine, it is yet unclear if similar rehabilitation techniques could work for humans, but the observed nerve growth hints at new methods for treating paralysis.
“After a couple of weeks of neurorehabilitation with a combination of a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation, our rats are not only voluntarily initiating a walking gait, but they are soon sprinting, climbing up stairs and avoiding obstacles when stimulated,” explains Courtine, who holds the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) Chair in Spinal Cord Repair at EPFL.
Waking up the spinal cord
It is well known that the brain and spinal cord can adapt and recover from moderate injury, a quality known as neuroplasticity. But until now the spinal cord expressed so little plasticity after severe injury that recovery was impossible. Courtine’s research proves that, under certain conditions, plasticity and recovery can take place in these severe cases—but only if the dormant spinal column is first woken up.
To do this, Courtine and his team injected a chemical solution of monoamine agonists into the rats. These chemicals trigger cell responses by binding to specific dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin receptors located on the spinal neurons. This cocktail replaces neurotransmitters released by brainstem pathways in healthy subjects and acts to excite neurons and ready them to coordinate lower body movement when the time is right.
Five to 10 minutes after the injection, the scientists electrically stimulated the spinal cord with electrodes implanted in the outermost layer of the spinal canal, called the epidural space. “This localized epidural stimulation sends continuous electrical signals through nerve fibers to the chemically excited neurons that control leg movement. All that is left was to initiate that movement,” explains Rubia van den Brand, contributing author to the study.
The innate intelligence of the spinal column
In 2009, Courtine already reported on restoring movement, albeit involuntary. He discovered that a stimulated rat spinal column—physically isolated from the brain from the lesion down—developed in a surprising way: It started taking over the task of modulating leg movement, allowing previously paralyzed animals to walk over treadmills. These experiments revealed that the movement of the treadmill created sensory feedback that initiated walking—the innate intelligence of the spinal column took over, and walking essentially occurred without any input from the rat’s actual brain. This surprised the researchers and led them to believe that only a very weak signal from the brain was needed for the animals to initiate movement of their own volition.
To test this theory, Courtine replaced the treadmill with a device that vertically supported the subjects, a mechanical harness did not facilitate forward movement and only came into play when they lost balance, giving them the impression of having a healthy and working spinal column. This encouraged the rats to will themselves toward a chocolate reward on the other end of the platform. “What they deemed willpower-based training translated into a fourfold increase in nerve fibers throughout the brain and spine—a regrowth that proves the tremendous potential for neuroplasticity even after severe central nervous system injury,” says Janine Heutschi, co-author in the study.
First human rehabilitation on the horizon
Courtine calls this regrowth “new ontogeny,” a sort of duplication of an infant’s growth phase. The researchers found that the newly formed fibers bypassed the original spinal lesion and allowed signals from the brain to reach the electrochemically-awakened spine. And the signal was sufficiently strong to initiate movement over ground—without the treadmill—meaning the rats began to walk voluntarily towards the reward, entirely supporting their own weight with their hind legs.
“This is the world-cup of neurorehabilitation,” exclaims Courtine. “Our rats have become athletes when just weeks before they were completely paralyzed. I am talking about 100% recuperation of voluntary movement.”
In principle, the radical reaction of the rat spinal cord to treatment offers reason to believe that people with spinal cord injury will soon have some options on the horizon. Courtine is optimistic that human, phase-two trials will begin in a year or two at Balgrist University Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Centre in Zurich, Switzerland. Meanwhile, researchers at EPFL are coordinating a nine million Euro project called NeuWalk that aims at designing a fully operative spinal neuroprosthetic system, much like the one used here with rats, for implanting into humans.
Citation:“Restoring voluntary control of locomotion after paralyzing spinal cord injury” Science, June 1st 2012
Authors: Rubia van den Brand, Janine Heutschi, Quentin Barraud, Jack DiGiovanna, Kay Bartholdi, Michèle Huerlimann, Lucia Friedli, Isabel Vollenweider, Eduardo Martin Moraud, Simone Duis, Nadia Dominici, Silvestro Micera, Pavel Musienko, and Grégoire Courtine.