Medtronic's NeuroStimulator Implant Spells Success - Analyst Blog

Medtronic, Inc. ( MDT ) is once again in the news. Researchers have revealed that four patients with lower limb paralysis regained movement in their legs after undergoing implantations with the company's spinal cord stimulator. These patients were able to move their legs on command, for the first time in two years after they underwent the surgery.

Medtronic's shares gained 0.7% yesterday following the release of this positive piece of news. The stock is up around 7.3% year to date.

Medtronic's Restore ADVANCED implant is traditionally used to manage chronic pain in the lower trunk or limbs. In this case, the implant helped stimulate voluntary muscle activity in the 4 paralyzed patients, who otherwise had no motor control. Moreover, of the 4 patients, 2 had even lost physical sensation in their legs.

Researchers at Medtronic are of the opinion that they have successfully unraveled a state-of-the-art intervention strategy that can affect recovery of voluntary movement in completely paralyzed patients, even years after injury. They feel continued experiments with improved technology are necessary, going forward, to ensure maximum advantage from such neurophysiological findings in people who have suffered severe spinal cord injury.

This is not the first time that an experiment in overcoming paralysis with neurostimulation has gained success. Paralysis patient Rob Summers turned famous in 2011 after briefly standing on his own feet with the aid of a stimulator, within only 3 days of the implant.

In most cases, after years of training and observation, patients with implants have been able to swing their legs, sit up without support and move their ankles. Some have also regained control over their bladders, bowels and sexual functions.

According to the latest study, published this month in Brain; A Journal of Neurology, 4 new patients were able to move their ankles and toes on command, after the activation of their implanted neurostimulators. Of these 4 patients, 3 were able to display some movement within 4 to 11 days post the implantation. However, the fourth patient did not demonstrate any movement until 7 months after the surgery.

However, it must be noted that the patients' newly gained motor control provided them only limited movement. The stimulation helped the patients move only one leg at a time. The device had to be turned off and on again to move the other leg. Nonetheless, the results from previous studies as well as this latest one have attracted the attention of several paralyzed individuals, who have expressed their inclination to voluntarily participate in such studies.

In all 4 research patients, their ability to move voluntarily has improved over time with daily epidural stimulation and voluntary training, besides stand or step training. It is expected that future experiments might help improve target and customize stimulation.

At present, another 8 patients have been set for neurostimulator implantation this year for a new study, although it has not yet been confirmed whether they will be provided the Medtronic implant.

Medtronic currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks worth considering in the medical products sector include Enzymotec Ltd. ( ENZY ), Covidien plc ( COV ) and William Demant Holding A/S ( WILYY ). While Enzymotec holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Covidien and William Demant retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

COVIDIEN PLC (COV): Free Stock Analysis Report

ENZYMOTEC LTD (ENZY): Free Stock Analysis Report

MEDTRONIC (MDT): Free Stock Analysis Report


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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