Exoskeletons improve bowel function in patients with spinal cord injury | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 18, 2024

Following a spinal cord injury, damage can occur to the nerves that allow a person to control bowel movements. This often leads to constipation and uncomfortable bowel and bladder accidents — one of the most common problems reported by people who experience a spinal cord injury.

That problem, however, may soon be solved, thanks to new research suggesting that physical activity and upright posture may improve colon function and that robotic exoskeletons can play a key role in achieving that. The novel research looked at 49 patients who completed 36 sessions of exoskeleton-assisted walking.

“We saw a notable reduction in bowel evacuation time, with 24% of participants reporting an improved experience,” said Gail Forrest, study co-author and director of the Kessler Foundation’s Tim and Caroline Reynolds Center for Spinal Stimulation in New Jersey.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of life of those with chronic spinal cord injury, and these encouraging results will help inform future studies on the emerging field of mobility intervention,” added Peter Gorman, a researcher at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute.

According to the researchers, it wasn’t just standing that improved bowel function but walking as well. As noted by the Foundation, “Recovery from spinal cord injury, long considered impossible, is now on the horizon” thanks to the ability to study “robotic exoskeletons and stand training with stimulation of the spine for walking.”

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